"Guys like Remco Evenepoel and Tadej Pogačar have raised the bar" - Michael Woods on growing strength within the peloton

Becoming a Tour de France stage winner for the first time in his career earlier this year, Michael Woods took arguably the biggest win of his career. With two Vuelta stage wins also, the Canadian now needs only a Giro d'Italia stage win to complete the set however, given the immense level in the modern peloton, it won't be easy.

“I was initially disappointed when I finished the tour just because I didn’t get a win afterward. I really felt on the day I won, I was on form to carry that through and maybe get another,” Woods has reflected in conversation with Velo. “You win, and you have the biggest achievement of your career, but then you lose 11 more times after that, so eventually, you start feeling like you’re a bit disappointed."

Since that victory, Woods has seen his profile grow immensely. “Occasionally, I’d get stopped by the odd person but no one would ever stop me in a coffee shop and ask for a selfie. Now, every time I stopped for coffee, it’s like, people were queuing up to get photos and want to talk to me and congratulate me,” Woods says. “It was like, shocking to see how many people just want to stop and take a selfie with me or say hi."

Next target, is the so far illusive Giro stage win, to complete his Grand Tour hat-trick. “It’s invigorated me because it’s given me this new goal of trying to win a stage at the Giro, it would be great to get all three. Especially with the way the peloton is going the way the best riders in the world are looking," as he eludes to there tough, it won't be easy.

"Guys like Remco Evenepoel and Tadej Pogačar have raised the bar. It’s certainly harder to win those races because of these guys, Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel too," he explains. “It’s certainly a higher level than it was five years ago and my goal of trying to win one of those monuments or championships, the percentage of chance of doing it was dropping. And so that started to take a bit of its toll on my motivation. Now I have this new goal of trying to be the guy that’s won a stage in all three grand tours and that’s really ignited a fire under me.”

Having also signed a new contract, Woods is sticking around with Israel - Premier Tech. “I’m with this team until I retire. I’m not sure when that is,” he concludes. “I’ll be turning 40 in 2026. I still feel like I’m improving as a cyclist, I still feel like I’m at my best, but one thing that has made it harder is having kids."

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