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Cycling

Ottawa cyclist Michael Woods wins 7th stage of Spanish Vuelta race

Ottawa cyclist Michael Woods won the seventh stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Tuesday, finishing the hilly 159.7-kilometre route from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Valdegovia in three hours 48 minutes 16 seconds.

Moves to 48th overall after completing 159.7 kms in 3:48.16

Canada's Michael Woods celebrates on the podium after winning the seventh stage of the La Vuelta cycling tour of Spain on Tuesday. (AFP via Getty Images)

Ottawa cyclist Michael Woods won the seventh stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Tuesday, finishing the hilly 159.7-kilometre route from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Valdegovia in three hours 48 minutes 16 seconds.

Woods, who finished second in Sunday's sixth stage, improved to 48th overall with the win.

The EF Pro Cycling rider made his move to the front entering the final kilometre and finished four seconds in front of Spanish cyclists Omar Fraile (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) to take his second La Vuelta stage win.

"It was a special day," Woods said. "I had a bit of luck, I had the legs and managed to get the win. I'm going to savour this one."

Ecuador's Richard Carapaz maintained the overall lead by finishing in the peloton, which crossed the line almost a minute later. The Ecuadorian kept an 18-second lead over Hugh Carthy, with Dan Martin and defending champion Primoz Roglic close behind. Roglic finished the stage in 19th place.

"I think we kept the situation under control," Carapaz said. "We tried to stay calm and we knew things were not too dangerous with the finale. We tried to keep the breakaway under control and I think we finished with a good gap."

Woods was the seventh different stage winner at the Vuelta this year.

"He played his cards and it worked well," Fraile said of Woods.

Strong stretch of racing

Woods also won a stage in the 2018 edition of the race, when he joined Ryder Hesjedal as the only Canadians to claim a stage in the Vuelta, traditionally the third Grand Tour race on the calendar.

An emotional Woods outlasted the field in a demanding 157-kilometre Stage 17 of the 2018 Vuelta, dedicating the win to his stillborn son, who died earlier in the year when his wife was 37 weeks pregnant. They have since celebrated the birth of daughter Max (Maxine).

Hesjedal won stages in 2009 and 2014. He also won the Giro d'Italia in 2012, the only Canadian to win a Grand Tour event.

Woods has been on a good run of late. He finished third at the Fleche Wallonne one-day classic on Sept. 30.

Woods' cycling resume also includes a victory in the 2019 Milano-Torino one-day race, a bronze medal in the road race at the 2018 world championships and a second place at the historic Liege-Bastogne-Liege one-day race in Belgium in 2018.

On Wednesday, riders will face a mountain stage of 164 km from Logrono to the Alto de Moncalvillo.

The Vuelta is taking place amid tight health restrictions as Spain endures a surge in coronavirus cases. The race was postponed from earlier in the year because of the pandemic.

With files from The Associated Press

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