The history of the thrilling win wasn’t lost on Ottawa’s Michael Woods.
But there was so much more to it when the 32-year-old — a member of the EF Education First Pro Cycling team — put the pedal to the metal as he raced toward the finish line and won the one-day semi-classic Milano-Torino race Wednesday in northern Italy, the first time a Canadian has won the event through its 100-year history.
“I love being a guy representing Canada on a world tour,” Woods told reporters in the moments after he raced past Alejandro Valverde (the 2018 UCI Road world champion) in the climb up to Basilica di Superga in the final 300 metres of a 179-km race and hung on at the finish line with a winning time of 4:03:48. “Any time I get to hear my national anthem at a race is special. This is the biggest one-day win of my career and I’m really proud of it. It’s on the back of all the hard work my team put into this race.”
Woods got aggressive during the race — it obviously worked as he held off Valverde.
“Any time you can beat Valverde is a special time,” Woods told Agence France-Presse. “I maybe attacked a bit too much, but I wanted to be offensive and I’m glad it worked out. This is a climb that favours guys who keep on attacking.”
The 2018 world championship bronze medalist and 2016 Olympian was once a professional runner and is the only person to have broken four minutes for the mile and completed the Tour de France (earlier this year).