Posted by Editor on 08/20/15
The official announcement has just been made that Mike Woods will be the latest Canadian rider to move up to the highest ranks of professional road racing, with his signing to the Cannondale-Garmin WorldTour team for next season [see Woods Signs with Cannondale-Garmin ]. Woods, who rides for the U.S.-based Continental squad Optum, has had a stellar season, with a win in Portugal early in the season at the Classica Loulé, a stage win and second overall at the Tour of Utah, and a win at the Tour of the Gila.
We spoke with Mike about his move to the WorldTour.
Canadian Cyclist: First of all, congratulations. When did Cannondale-Garmin approach you?
Mike Woods: Thanks, it's amazing. I've been talking with Jonathan Vaughters [team owner] since February, after my result in Portugal. He's been keeping tabs on me since then, and after I knocked Utah out of the park, we made a deal almost immediately.
CC: So how long is the contract for?
MW: It's a one year deal.
CC: So, the WorldTour ... that's the big league.
MW: It's crazy. I have wanted this to happen since I started racing. I got into cycling with the goal of getting into the WorldTour. But as I raced and learned about the sport I realize how ignorant I was ... it's such a long shot. So, having gone through the last three years, it is super satisfying for this to happen.
CC: You've had some good result before, but this year is different; why is this a breakout year for you?
MW: I think it is for a couple of reasons. Last year I think I was physically ready but I didn't have the technical skills or the support. Also, my coach, Paolo Saldanha [also Guillaume Boivin's coach] has been a big influence and a big part of it.
CC: What about Optum? Joining the team certainly seems to have been good for you.
MW: Optum has made a difference, for sure. My numbers have been bigger, but without a team behind you it just won't happen. Jonas [Carney - team director] put a lot of faith and support in me. The whole team, with guys like Jonas and Eric [Wohlberg, manager] taking care of stuff ... it meant that the only thing we had to think about was racing. That makes a huge difference.
Because we are the top-ranked team in the UCI America Tour it means that we are able to get into the bigger events and I can show my abilities. My team mates are great and make the difference with their support, and it takes the pressure off; when you are having a bad day you know one of the other guys can step up.
CC: It's obviously too early to be talking about your program with Cannondale-Garmin, but have you discussed at all what your role will be and what sort races you will be getting into?
MW: Well, when I was talking with JV [Vaughters], I was very clear that my big goal is to make the Olympics in Rio next year, so I had to make sure that was fine with the team. JV was on board with that. Obviously, I'm not a big guy on the team, but I will have the opportunity to do stuff in races that suit me, like the Algarve.
CC: What about the rest of this season - what's left?
MW: One of my big goals is to take the overall lead in the America Tour.
CC: The last Canadian to do that was Svein Tuft.
MW: Really? That's pretty cool, and some big shoes to follow. I'm only 16 points back, so doing well in Alberta is important and could make a big difference. After that, I'm hoping to be selected to the [Quebec / Montreal] WorldTour races [with the national squad]. Then maybe the Worlds ... the course doesn't suit me as much as last year, but I can certainly support the other guys that have more of a chance, like Ryan Anderson, and with six riders able to go we could have a real team.
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