It has likely been the strongest Road Worlds ever for Canada, with riders finishing with two bronze medals, a fourth, two fifths, a sixth and an eighth. In addition, Canadian riders were on Team Time Trial squads that won silver and bronze. In the nation rankings, Canada finished a remarkably strong fourth, behind the Netherlands, Italy and Belgium, but ahead of cycling powerhouses such as Australia, France, Denmark and Spain.
“This performance by Mike was absolutely amazing,” said Louis Barbeau, Team Manager for the world championships. “It concludes an equally amazing world championships, where Canada had tremendous success. It started off on a very good note with the Junior women’s time trial [fifth for Simone Boilard], the Elite women’s time trial [fourth by Leah Kirchmann and eighth from Karol-Ann Canuel], and the Junior women’s road race [bronze medal for Boilard]. And then Mike’s bronze medal, the first in the [Elite men’s] road race since 1984.”
The 258 kilometre men’s race had the most climbing in recent memory, finishing with a three kilometre climb that reached a maximum gradient of 28% before dropping back down to the finish line in the center of Innsbruck.
Canada’s Rob Britton was a member of an early 11 rider breakaway that took a massive 20 minute lead before the rest of the peloton began to reel them in. Britton was out in the break for nearly 200 kilometres before being caught, eventually finishing 76th.
“It was important for us to get in the break and that was my plan from the get-go,” explained Britton. “I tried to conserve energy the best that I could, so I could be there until the end to help Mike. We’re a small cycling country, but we used our riders the best we could, with Hugo and Antoine taking care of Mike, and myself in the break. I got caught on a brutal section of the second last climb and couldn’t go with them. For sure, this was the hardest day of bike racing I have ever done.”
For the main field, the race became one of attrition, as more and more riders were dropped on each of the seven laps of the 7.5 kilometre climb. Woods remained calm and protected in the field by team mates Antoine Duchesne and Hugo Houle, and stayed near the front as the field gradually shrank.
On the final lap, the race was quickly pared down to Woods, Valverde, Bardet and Gianni Moscon (Italy). Woods was clearly the dominant rider on the climb, moving to the front and setting the pace. He dropped Moscon, but could not shake Valverde and Bardet, and the three went over the top of the climb together, chased by Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands), less than 10 seconds behind. The trio reached the bottom of the descent ahead of Dumoulin, but the Dutch rider joined them with 1500 metres to go. Valverde led out the sprint, with Woods and Bardet both on his wheel as Dumoulin faded. Less than 100 metres from the line, Woods was hit by leg cramps and had to ease up, holding on for third.
Photo Rob Jones/Canadian Cyclist (All Rights Reserved)
“I was confident in my sprint, but unfortunately I got cramped up with only 50 metres to go and couldn’t keep the momentum up. There was a bit of disappointment; I wanted to win and I think I could have won if I didn’t cramp up. Certainly, this has been the best season of my career; these late results are a product of me losing my son … having Hunter pass away this summer really motivated me to train my butt off and do something big for him and my wife.”
Source: Cycling Canada
About Cycling Canada
Cycling Canada is the governing body for competitive cycling in Canada. With the vision of becoming a leading competitive cycling nation, Cycling Canada manages the High Performance team, hosts national and international events and administers programs to promote and grow cycling across the country. Cycling Canada programs are made possible through the support of its valued corporate partners – Global Relay, Lexus Canada, Mattamy Homes, Louis Garneau, lululemon, 4iiii, Argon18 and Bear Mountain Resort – along with the Government of Canada, Own The Podium, the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee.