Michael Woods had given himself maximum chances to shine at the Montreal Cycling Grand Prix, where he announced himself as a potential winner on Sunday.
Under the deluge, the Ottawa climber remained sheltered in a tent as long as possible before reaching the starting line, where the 159 other runners were already gathered around 10:10 a.m.
“I have four minutes left,” he said to The Press, looking concentrated before clipping his pedals to join the peloton. Perhaps he remembered the road race at the 2019 Worlds, where he had given up, freezing.
Despite this precaution and the initiative of his Israel-Premier Tech (IPT) team in the first half of the race, Woods was not able to make his wish come true.
However, the Canadian was in the right place at the start of the 18the and last lap of the 12.3 km circuit, snug in the lead group of around twenty cyclists.
But when future winner Adam Yates attacked in the Camillien-Houde route, Woods disappeared from the radar screens. He crossed the finish line at 15e rank, 55 seconds behind the Briton.
Looking sullen, he took refuge in a tent to change before receiving his prize for best Canadian, a “title” with which he could hardly be satisfied. He did not participate in the press conference for the winners.
“I am really disappointed with the result and I expected better,” Woods confirmed in a statement transmitted in the evening by IPT.
“Unfortunately I just didn’t have the legs on the last lap. I felt good, even with the bad weather at the start, but I didn’t have the legs at the end. »
Not the best shape
Woods had a thought for his teammate Daryl Impey, the first to take charge behind the escape Florian Vermeersch. The 38-year-old South African pulled away after 11 laps, returning to the team box in tears.
Guillaume Boivin and Hugo Houle took turns taking over. By their own admission, the two Quebecers were not in their best form.
Boivin was the first to retire, making a complete U-turn after the 13the rise of Camillien-Houde.
“I couldn’t really do better,” lamented Boivin, victim of a fall at the Renewi Tour in Belgium on August 26. “It’s certainly disappointing. »
The Longueuil resident praised the strength of Florian Vermeersch, who remained alone at the front while several attackers tried to join him in vain. This first portion of the test in the showers left its mark.
“No, I’m not satisfied,” Boivin said. It wasn’t a great race on my part. I covered the escapes at the beginning to try to get us represented [en tête de course] and let us not be in trouble. I didn’t have long legs. I did the best I could with the legs I had. »
Boivin had joined his team in the VIP zone when Houle walked past him, greeting the crowd, before entering the pits with two laps to go.
“We fought well, but for my part, after five hours, I had cramps,” explained the native of Sainte-Perpétue. I had really reached my limit. I’m a little disappointed, but I can’t do better today. »
The collective performance of Israel-Premier Tech in Quebec, where Corbin Strong finished second, and in Montreal was, however, cause for celebration, in his eyes.
“We ran well as a team, we showed that we were there. A podium in Quebec is excellent. We were hoping for more today, but that doesn’t work every day. I’m proud of the way Israel-Premier Tech ran. We were seen at the front. We’re making progress, and that’s good for the future. »
A mechanical problem for Julien
Amid controversy after the call-up of two left behind, the Canadian national team also experienced a difficult race, with none of its seven starters managing to reach the finish.
Matisse Julien, 20, was one of the few to see himself at the start of the race, but a rear derailleur failure doomed his attempt to get back on Vermeersch just as two counter-attackers were about to join him.
“It’s a shame because I think I was having my best day since June,” lamented the Laval resident, stage winner at the Ronde de l’Oise and the Tour de Beauce.
“Having known this morning that I was having such a good day, I might have played it differently and stayed in the peloton a little longer. But sometimes things don’t go your way. »
Unfortunately, Julien will not be able to recover since he was competing in his last competition of the season. The Ecoflo Chronos color bearer will join Robin Plamondon next year with the French team CIC U Nantes Atlantique, where he will benefit from a tougher calendar.