Woods is currently making his second Tour de France after his 2019 debut was marred by several crashes, including breaking two ribs during a crash halfway through the race. Despite the injuries, he fought all the way to Paris. And as you would expect from a runner who seemingly enjoys difficulties, Woods is still aiming high for what’s left in the remainder of the 2021 race.A third place for morale in the difficult stage to Le Grand-Bornand last Saturday is already in the bag, but stage victories and potentially the mountain classification remain engraved on his list of 201 Tour buckets.
“The first week wasn’t supposed to be like that, but man, it was a challenge,” Woods told a small group of reporters at the start of Stage 10, describing what he called Stage One. the most difficult of all the Grand Tour he has taken part in.
“Just finishing stage 9 was one of my toughest three days on the bike, I think, feeling totally and utterly tired. I woke up with a hangover the next day with bags under my eyes.
Looking for relatively difficult days, he said he found “I remembered finishing on the Finestre [in the 2018 Giro d’Italia – Ed.] when [Chris] Froome went there in 2018 and woke up the next day and realized you still have a day to go. Just like that, it was a tough wake-up call yesterday morning. “
Woods says he feels a lot stronger again after a solid day off and his energy levels are restored, which is just as good as he has ambitious plans for the rest of the Tour.
“The two circled days this week are the stages of Ventoux and Andorra, for breakaways and potentially trying to take the climber’s jersey,” said Woods. But he admitted that he faced formidable contenders for the same classification. Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) is currently at the top of the standings and the Colombian is confident he will defend him as far as Paris as well.
“It’s just my luck that I picked this year to go get the mountain jersey,” Woods said half-seriously, half-joking of Quintana. “It’s a very prestigious jersey but now I’m aiming for it the same year that Quintana is too. “
Woods, second in the mountain competition, currently has 42 points against 50 for Quintana. Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious), who has already led the competition this year, is third with 39, so cannot be excluded from the battle either. Either way, Woods is looking to make his mark.
“The best climbs for me are normally the short and hard ones. But since last year I’m doing much better than I’ve ever been on the long climbs. I don’t think the Ventoux stage is tailor-made for me but I can say, ”he said with a chuckle,“ I’m the last guy to win the Tour du Ventoux on Zwift. “
Apart from the virtual triumphs in the race in Ventoux, Andorra, where he lives with his family when based in Europe, will also be a step ahead with special associations for him.
“Unfortunately, being in the racing bubble, I won’t be able to see my family but I know they will be on the side of the road to cheer and I know the roads well,” he said.
As to why the Tour is so tough this year, it’s interesting that Woods attributes his tense nature to Tadej Pogačar’s dominance. The situation is that rather than having a few or more riders vying for the overall victory at this point in the game, Pogacar is head and shoulders above the rest of the field. As a result, as Woods sees it, only one team is in control of the race and because the first week was a lot harder than usual, things got out of hand even faster than usual.
As for Pogacar’s chances of winning a second yellow in Paris, Woods simply says the Tour “is his to lose. But regularity in a GC Grand Tour fight is also very important. Last year Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) was so dominant in the first two weeks, then cracked, but he didn’t lose form, Pogačar just passed him.
“Maybe Pogacar went too hard the first week. But his appearance in the peloton and the way he ran – I don’t see any cracks in the armor yet. Meanwhile, Woods has his own goals to achieve.