Michael Woods aims to put Canadian cycling on the map with Israel-Premier Tech

He says he's aiming to win a a stage of the Tour de France or a monument this year, his 'big goal' in cycling

Michael Woods Lombardia
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Michael Woods wants to use Israel-Premier Tech to "really try and put Canadian cycling on the map".

With Canadian company Premier Tech joining the Israeli team for 2022, Woods explained that it "really does feel like this is Canada's team".

Speaking at the team's launch last Thursday, the 35-year old said: "Right now, I think, well, this is the peak of Canadian cycling, but it's only gonna get better and I think we're gonna hopefully inspire more riders to move up their ranks again."

Woods also used the team's launch to express his desire to win a "big race" such as a monument or a stage of the Tour de France this year, stressing that this was his big goal this season.

His new teammate Jakob Fuglsang, who joined from Astana over the off-season, said at the same event that he was "convinced" that Israel-Premier Tech would win a monument this year.

Five of the six Canadians in the WorldTour are now at Israel-Premier Tech, with Hugo Houle joining Alexander Cataford, Guillaume Boivin, James Piccoli and Woods for this season. 

He explained: "With Premier Tech now coming on board, it really does feel like this is Canada's team. If you're Canadian back home watching this team, you have a team to root for. With Hugo coming on board, I've done the Olympics with Hugo now twice, world championships with him, he's such a great guy, such a great teammate, he's gonna really help bring everyone's level up. 

"Now that we have five Canadian riders in the WorldTour on this team I think we're really gonna set up the bar high and lead by example."

At the same press conference Israel-Premier Tech's co-owner Ron Baron said he hoped to use the squad to "put Israel on the map". The team's new dual nationality means it is seeking to expand in two directions.

>>> Israel-Premier Tech seek to 'improve the world' as well as winning bike races

Woods laid out his plans for 2022, saying that his "big goal in cycling is to win a monument or a global championship", something he has not done yet. He finished 3rd at the World Championship road race in 2018 and came 2nd at Liège-Bastogne-Liège the same year.

"I would like to win a big race, whether it's a stage of the Tour de France or a monument.," he said. "I've won at just the tier below, like at the Vuelta and I've had strong results. Last year was the best season of my career but it was full of near-misses. Fifth places at the bigger races, and I want to step up and get that big win."

Israel-Premier Tech hope that bringing together Woods and Fuglsang will lead to victory this year. The pair both said they believed in this approach.

"I really benefited from having Dan last year," Woods said. "Just learning from him, he's also a guy who has won two monuments, just like Jakob, Lombardia and Liège. 

"At the classics, particularly now, if you have a two pronged approach, it makes a huge difference. With Jakob, I know I can learn so much from him. He's a great rider... he has already motivated me here. So I think he's going to help me get to a new level."

Fuglsang echoed this: "Especially in the classics, and in cycling nowadays, it's so competitive and there are so many good guys there. If you have the possibility of having two guys in the final of a monument, you have so many more ways to play your cards and that can make the different. 

"I think it's really a huge benefit and I'm convinced that we're going to win a monument this year."

The Danish rider, who had a winless season in 2021, said that he wanted to prove that this was a one-off. He also revealed that he would ride the Tour of Flanders for the first time, after 13 years in the WorldTour.

"I would like to start out good, I had not the best season last year and I want to prove that that was a one-timer, that was a bad season and that I still have it in me to win," he said.

"So I would try to go good from the beginning. Strade Bianche will be one of the first big goals, and then this year I will do Flanders also, which I have been asking to do for a few years."

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