Mike Woods took over the lead in the Best Canadian jersey competition at the Tour of Alberta after the race’s second consecutive mountaintop finish at Marmot Basin. Woods took the red jersey off the shoulders of Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin) after the races queen stage, a stunning 100-mile route winding through Jasper National Park. The stage brought dryer conditions and slightly warmer temperatures, but a steep 12 km finishing climb ensured no comfort in the end. Woods finished 10th, enough for the Ottawa native to wear his countries colors in stage five, but the fierce competitor was left wanting more after his last chance to fight on serious uphill roads in Alberta. (See a photo gallery from stage four of the Tour of Alberta.)
“The past two stages have been pretty challenging, not so much from a terrain perspective, but from a weather perspective,” said Woods. “The cold and rain in stage 3, and the cold today left the entire field feeling pretty stiff and tired going into the two uphill finishes. Coming into the race, I was targeting a win or podium finish on one or two of the days as both Jonas and I thought the finishes really suited me. On stage 3 I had good legs, so I decided to roll the dice and went for an early attack with about 600m to go in the race. Unfortunately I just didn’t have the legs to hold off the field, but I felt pretty confident, that if I were able to have the same sensations in stage 4, I would have a good crack at the podium. Stage 4 didn’t go nearly as well though, I just didn’t have it, and blew up in the final km of the climb. I was pretty disappointed with the performance, but, sometimes you just have bad days.”
Woods and his three countrymen on roster have enjoyed a warm welcome at Canada’s premier stage race. The Best Canadian Rider prize was ample consolation for Woods after his dissapointment in the race’s queen stage, and a primary goal for the team with two days of racing remaining.
“It is definitely pretty special to be in the jersey. Last year, a result like this would have been the highlight of my career, but the team has had quite a season and helped me to some big results. Being a Canadian at this race has been super cool. Ryan (Anderson), Guillaume (Boivin), Will (Routley) and I have been treated like rock stars at each stage. People have come up and asked for autographs, fans have written our names on the climbs, and our names are constantly being yelled out as we race by; the reception and support has been awesome.”
The race exits the mountains for the final two stages. Look for more Canadian persuasion from the Orange & Black – both course profiles suit the all-around and bunch sprinting skills of Anderson and Boivin.