Il Lombardia: WINNERS BY NATURE

  • MIKE WOODS finishes 9th after a great fight, but far from satisfied: “All I wanted was a win.”

  • DAN MARTIN finishes his career after one mighty effort “that left me empty.”

Minutes after the end of the six grueling hours of #ILombardia, they were sitting in the back of the bus, side by side, holding their beers, drained, empty.

The first, Mike Woods, was looking forward to a well-deserved vacation to refuel his batteries. The second, Dan Martin, had just started his post-cycling career journey. “What a relief,” he said. “It was so brutal out there, so when I was nearing the finish, I felt so complete with my decision. I really have nothing more to give.”

His sentiment was so understandable and true. At this level, you have to have it all if you want to compete. And his teammate, Mike Woods, exemplified it best. He had the legs on a day that nothing less was acceptable. So, on the last climb towards Bergamo – the Passo di Ganda – there were only about ten riders left in the game. And when Tadej Pogačar attacked, Mike was not only able to hold the pace of the few chasers but tried to take the initiative again and again. “I had the legs, and I was aggressive,” he said.

They were closing in following the descent to Bergamo, but the group was disorganized.

In the end, all that was left was a fight for a podium. Although he maintained his effort, being such a winner by nature, a podium was not going to satisfy him anyway. “All I wanted was the win,” he said. “I wasn’t going for third, fourth, or fifth – I wanted to win.”

That was his last race of 2021, and he was deservingly satisfied with his season. “I raced well.”

He certainly did. Congrats to him and the whole team.

And back to Dan Martin. As he was leaving the team bus for the last time, he seemed genuinely happy. That’s all a guy could wish for, right?

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com