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Woods climbs into the KOM jersey on stage 14 of the Tour

Israel Start-Up Nation has taken the iconic polka dot KOM jersey with Michael Woods after a courageous effort by the Canadian climber on stage 14 of the Tour de France. This is the first ever leader’s jersey for ISN in the the Tour!

With its undulating profile, today’s stage had breakaway written all over it. Therefore, it was no surprise to see a furious fight to make it into the right group at the start of the day. After nearly 100 km of fighting, a group finally managed to get away. Having been attentive near the front the whole time, waiting for the optimal moment, Woods was quick to get up the road and join the leading riders.

“From that moment on, I was trying to play my cards right,” Woods explained afterward. “I didn’t want to spend too much energy fighting Poels for the KOM points, but I also had to take more points than him, which was a difficult task because he’s so strong.”

On the following three categorized climbs, Woods picked up nine KOM points which put him in the virtual lead of the competition.

Unfortunately, on the penultimate descent, Woods suffered a minor crash, which meant he had to expend significant energy chasing back to the front group. Shortly after he made it back, Bauke Mollema [Trek-Segafredo] attacked and soloed away.

At the top of the last climb, Woods put in another strong effort, crossing the line in second place, sealing his move to the top of the ranking in the KOM competition.

“It was a nice feeling, knowing I had taken the jersey, but I was also cursing myself for crashing. I was so disappointed in myself. Still, I knew I was on a really good day and I’m really proud to be riding in the polka dot jersey tomorrow. Especially on familiar roads in Andorra,” Woods said.

In the end, Woods finished fifth on the stage, his second top-5 place in this year’s Tour de France after taking third on stage 8. An impressive result, but – to Woods – only one thing mattered today.

“Growing up, I didn’t know anything about cycling, but I always watched the Tour and I found that the KOM jersey was the coolest jersey of them all. It’s truly a dream come true to be in that jersey now. I hope I can get a good night’s sleep so my body can recover, and I will be able to enjoy it tomorrow.”

— MC to israelcyclingacademy.com

Woods hunts for KOM points on stage 9 of the Tour

Israel Start-Up Nation put on an impressive team effort on stage 9 of the Tour de France, setting up Michael Woods to join the breakaway and go for KOM points. He’s now second in the competition for the polka dot jersey.

Despite digging deep on yesterday’s first day in the mountains, Woods was eager to get up the road once again, aiming to score points in the KOM competition. The ISN riders made sure that no dangerous groups went away on the opening kilometers before hitting the first climb of the day. At that point, Woods went to the front to follow the strong attacks, which ultimately saw him make it into a strong six-rider front group.

Woods scored KOM points on the first four categorized climbs, before giving in to the wet and cold conditions in the high mountains. Overall, the Canadian is now in second place, just eight points down on the leader in the king of mountains competition: Nairo Quintana (Arkea – Samsic). Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) still leads the race ahead of tomorrow’s rest day.

Michael Woods: “We took the front from the start and rode all the way towards the first climb. The guys were really awesome today. At the end, going head-to-head with Quintana took its toll. The accumulated fatigue from yesterday’s big effort and the cold weather today really started to impact me. I tried to play it the best way I could but following Quintana killed me and I blew up. The weather really affected me, and I could barely hold the handlebars on the descent. I was descending like a feather.

“However, we are still very much in the game [for the KOM]. It would have been nice to go for the stage win today but that wasn’t in the cards. Still, the fact that I was able to attack and be in the break after riding so hard yesterday gives me a lot of confidence. Now, I have two days to recover and then I’ll be good for the next stage.”

— MC to israelcyclingacademy.com

Podium for Woods on stage 8 of the Tour de France

Israel Start-Up Nation got its first-ever podium place on a Tour de France stage as Michael Woods finished third on stage 8.

Already at the beginning of the day, Woods had declared that he was eager to seek his chances on this first big day in the mountains. When a big group of riders finally managed to distance the peloton, Woods was quick to join the move and bridge across to the front riders.

Staying attentive at all times, Woods never let any dangerous riders get away and on the steep Col de Romme, the penultimate climb of the day, the strong Canadian decided to go solo and leave everybody else behind.

At the top, Woods had about one minute on the first chase group. However, on the slopes of the final climb, Col de la Colombière, Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious) managed to come back to the front. Woods hung on for as long as possible but in the last few hundred meters, he had to let go. Teuns went on to win the stage, while Woods finished his courageous day on the bike with an impressive third place in Le Grand-Bornand.

Michael Woods: I knew I was on a good day when we went up the first KOM climb already, and I got a confirmation of that when I was able to bridge across to the front group on the next climb. I’m proud of myself for that one. In the past, I would have given up on that one, but I knew that if I just kept pushing, I would get across and be able to recover.

“After that, I started focusing on both the stage win and the KOM jersey. It was good to have Rik [Verbrugghe, sports director] in my ear, giving me some pointers; to play it conservatively on the first cat 1 and then go after it on the next one. I saw Yates attack on the second cat 1 and I knew that if I countered, I would get a lot of freedom and be able to just ride my own pace.

“On the last climb, I knew that I just had to keep my own tempo not to blow up, so that’s what I did. Teuns came back so fast and I really suffered, trying to hang on. I can’t be disappointed though. I did the best race I possibly could. I covered as many moves as possible early on and I was aggressive. I raced to win and sometimes when you race to win, you’re going to lose, but at least I tried.”

— MC to israelcyclingacademy.com

WOODS TO LEAD TEAM ISN IN THE TOUR DE FRANCE

Israel Start-Up Nation Lineup for the Tour de France 2021

Rider: Mike Woods

Role: Leader

Goals: GC and stage victories 

We call him Woodsy, and we fell in love with him the moment he arrived. And what’s not to love? Woods was all we expected and much more. He quickly became one of our brightest stars with his winning mentality and mode of attacking, he delivered victories and came so close many other times. 

Head sports director, Rik Verbrugghe:

“The thing with Mike is that before joining us, he was always the second rider. The one to work for a leader. Joining ISN, we allowed him to lead, and he proved to us that he is, indeed, a natural leader.

His success in the Classics, the Tour de Romandie, and the Tour de Suisse gave him – and us – the confidence that he can play the role in the greatest cycling race of all, the Tour.

“I expect him to fight for stage wins and be there in the GC hunt as he did in the Tour de Suisse. The team’s primary focus will be to protect Woodsy and provide all the support he will need.”

Mike Woods: 

“I am really excited to represent Israel Start-Up Nation in the Tour de France, especially in a team leader role. I had an opportunity to lead a team in a Grand Tour, but never at the Tour de France. I am honored to be given this position, especially considering the quality of the team we have.

“My main goals and priorities are clear: stage wins first and try to go high on the general classification. We want to do well on the GC, no doubt, most important thing for me is the stage wins. That’s the main focus.

“I am looking forward to taking on the GC role in the team. I love racing GC. It’s really challenging and doing it on Tour is more challenging, more intense, and much more stressful. But the way I am riding these days, I am up to the challenge. And with the team that we have, we will be a force to be reckoned with.

“I think I’m in a good spot right now. I learned some excellent lessons in the Tour de Suisse that we just finished yesterday, where I was able to fight for stage wins and finished fifth overall. I think we’re going to use those lessons going into this Grand Tour. I’m excited about it, I believe there are some excellent opportunities for us – not just for me but for the team, and I’m looking forward to starting up in Bretagne.”

Tour de Suisse 2021 – 85th Edition – 8th stage Andermatt – Andermatt 159,5 km – 13/06/2021 – Passo del Gottardo – Michael Woods (NZL – Israel Start-Up Nation) – photo Peter De Voecht/PN/BettiniPhoto©2021

— Tsadok to israelcyclingacademy.com