Cycling fans Down Under remember Canadian Michael Woods, and they should. The then 29-year-old neo-pro earned two third-place stage finishes en route to a top-5 finish on general classification, ninth on points and third on mountains.
The very same Woods is now battling it out at the 72nd edition of La Vuelta a España, and currently sits eighth (+1:52) on GC after nine stages, thanks in large part to performances like his third-place result atop Cumbre del Sol on Stage 9.
Woods crossed the finish five seconds off stage winner and race leader Chris Froome, and one second behind GC superstar-in-the-making Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott).
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Zingle wins uphill Stage 1 sprint finish at Arctic Race of Norway
The always gracious Woods was quick to give compliments to both his rivals and his teammates following Sunday’s performance.
“Didn’t get the win—lost to 2 better men—but proud to be, and proud of my teammates and all the staff, on @Ride_Argyle today. Much love,” he tweeted.
What’s even more impressive about Woods’s performance and attitude is that while he is busy plying his trade, his team is desperately seeking to survive and fill a $7million shortfall caused by a last-minute withdrawal of a potential commercial naming sponsor for 2018.
All this comes just days after the team re-signed 30-year-old Colombian Rigoberto Urán to a three-year multimillion dollar deal. While the team is allowing all riders to seek employment elsewhere, the 2017 Tour de France runner up has given Slipstream Sports two weeks to save the team before he takes his talents elsewhere.
Three Australians and a New Zealander have joined Woods on the Cannondale roster at La Vuelta, including Grand Tour veteran Simon Clarke (AUS), William Clarke (AUS), Brendan Canty (AUS) and Tom Scully (NZL).
New Zealand rider and former Australian National Road Series champion Patrick Bevin is also on the team, but not racing the Vuelta, along with Australia stagiaire Cyrus Monk. Former Drapac sprinter Wouter Wippert (NED) is also on the team.
Meanwhile the team has resorted to crowdfunding, with a message to it’s “GreenArgyle” fans to continue to show its support by donating a minimum of $100.
“When we shared the news of our uncertain future, #GreenArgyle fans responded with an incredible show of support. Inspired by your feedback, we are in the process of crowdsourcing a fundraiser that we hope will allow us to continue our cycling team for the 2018 season. While we get all our ducks in a row, please register your interest in officially joining the Slipstream Sports family for the upcoming season.”
So with the team’s future in doubt, Woods continues to shine thus giving Slipstream a bright spot in a bleak present.
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