Canadian cyclist Michael Woods missed the podium after a hard 234km ride
In a race that lasted nearly 6 hours and traveled more than 200 kilometers, Canadian cyclist Michael Woods ended up with only a few inches left.
Richard Carapaz of Ecuador won the gold medal and Woods was one of five drivers who competed for the silver and bronze medals in the final 100-meter straight sprint. A few meters away from the race, Woods seemed to be eliminated by the other two drivers, eventually finishing fifth and missing a medal in less than a second.
“I am very satisfied with my riding style, but right on the podium, this is my big goal,” Woods told CBC Sports after the game. “I tried to separate as much as possible, but it just wasn’t in the card.”
Woods’ final score was 6 hours, 6 minutes and 33 seconds, 1.07 points behind Karapas.
Wout van Aert of Belgium won the silver medal. Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia won the bronze medal.
Woods overcame difficult conditions and raced at the finish line on what the riders called the toughest Olympic track ever.
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The 34-year-old veteran was barely mentioned in this game before, like a coiled spring, rushing into the first group with about 30 kilometers left in the 234-kilometer race.
While participating in the competition, the Toronto native and Ottawa resident stated that this cruel route full of deadly climbs “really suits him.” He is right.
“I thought I was the strongest climber today, but I had to roll the dice [and] It didn’t work as I hoped,” Woods said.
“I really don’t want it to boil down to a sprint. I tried a few attacks and I want to run away like Carapaz, but I’m just not as lucky as him and able to move like him.”
This game has an Olympic feel that Tokyo lacks, because this is the first time that athletes have a crowd to cheer for them. Thousands of drivers welcomed them when they entered the Fuji Speedway two hours away from Tokyo, where the race ended. The drivers also received strong encouragement from the locals, who lined up on a part of the track during the race winding through the mountains, where the COVID-19 protocol is not as strict as in Tokyo.
Although five drivers in countries like Italy, Belgium and France were able to control the speed of the entire race before launching a series of coordinated attacks, Woods did most of the work himself.
The race lasted about 80 kilometers and Woods appeared to be involved in a crash that caused the two British drivers to miss out, but he did not make contact. He did have to temporarily withdraw from the race because one of his shoes seemed to be faulty, and then he switched to a new pair of shoes from his team car.
Since the iconic Mount Fuji is looming in many places on the track, the 130 riders must pass five hard climbs, totaling nearly 5,000 meters, which is even more difficult than the most difficult mountain stage of the Tour de France.
As one commentator said: Coupled with humidity, they will feel like they are climbing Mount Everest.
After nearly 200 kilometers of the race, the most difficult challenge in this race appeared, called the Three Kingdoms Pass, which was the steepest climb in the bicycle race.
Woods said before the game that the steep ascent made it “a good track for him.”
“This is a very challenging climb, very steep, but it really suits my skill set. I think in hot conditions, especially the number of climbs in this game, it really suits my abilities. “Woods told CBC Sports.
Watch | Olympian: Mike Woods
In addition to cruel climbing, the rider must also endure the scorching heat. Earlier this month, Woods actually decided to leave the Tour de France early so that he could participate in the Olympics early and help himself adapt to the heat.
“I did it for three hours at the hottest time of the day, sweating profusely, and I was really happy I was able to go in. I think I still need a few days of high temperature exposure, I think I will get better for the actual match day ,” Woods said.
Olympic road races are usually held on the track, but in these races, drivers start from Musashino Mori Park in Tokyo, then pass through Kanagawa and Yamanashi prefectures, and finally end at Fuji International Circuit. As the riders meander through the Japanese countryside, they accept a small part of Japanese culture, including ancient temples and ornate fountains.
Just two weeks ago, Woods suffered a crash in the Tour de France, where he suffered a severe road rash. But after entering these games, Wood said he felt healthy and in good spirits.
Back home, his wife Allie is about to give birth to a boy. Although the family has changed and his career now includes two Olympics, at the moment after this fiasco, Woods said you might see him in Paris, where the 2024 Olympics will be held.
“We will have to see what the courses in Paris are like,” he said. “I will be 38 years old in the next Olympics, so it’s hard to tell. But it makes me more motivated. If the Paris game is full of challenges, I think I will go there.”