Michael Woods leads team at Tour de France but says 'I don't deserve to be in the conversation for the win'

The Canadian has been one of the best climbers this season but his time trial form has let him down

Michael Woods on the final stage of the Tour de Suisse 2021
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Michael Woods has played down his chances of going for the win at the Tour de France 2021, saying he doesn't deserve to in the conversation for the win.

Woods is set to be the team leader for Israel Start-Up Nation who bring a very experienced looking line-up to the race including four-time winner Chris Froome, and multiple stage winners André Greipel and Dan Martin.

This season, Woods has shown that he is one of the strongest climbers in the WorldTour peloton, however, his time trial form has not been anywhere near his rivals and he has missed out on races because of it.

>>> Mark Cavendish is not going for Eddy Merckx's record at the Tour de France, according to his trainer

In the pre-race press conference, Woods said: "I'm going to be the leader of this team but I don't feel like I have the same pressure compared to a guy like Primož Roglič, [Tadej] Pogačar or the three leaders from Ineos, I don't have those expectations on me. I didn't come into this season with those expectations.

"Quite frankly, with the state of my time trial I don't think I deserve to be in that conversation for the win but I do think I can be quite competitive at this race."

The Canadian rider has shown throughout this season that he has superb climbing form this year with top 10s in GC in most races he's ridden this year.

But he has missed out on overall titles due to a lack of team-mates or a time trial breaking his chances. 

"For me, I have lost a bit in the time trials, it's one of my weakest disciplines. I have improved quite a bit though this season," he said. 

"Unfortunately in Switzerland, I had some technical difficulties with the bike so that cost me quite a bit but I feel like my time trial has improved.

"That being said, I will lose considerable time to guys like Geraint Thomas, Pogačar and Roglič in the time trial but I'm not that concerned about that because the number one goal for this team and for me is to get a stage win."

Woods put in some very entertaining attacks in his most recent races of the Tour de Romandie and the Tour de Suisse, finishing in fifth at both races and taking a stage win in one and a second place in the other.

"I don't think going for the general classification and going after a win are exclusive. I think I can do both. But I'll have a lot more freedom to go after a win if I'm not right in the mix after the time trial. "

The time trials did seem to wreck his chances with Woods going into the final stage time trial in Romandie in the leader's yellow jersey only to lose it to Geraint Thomas, with the Tour de Suisse having two tests against the clock to battle against.

"If I'm down a minute or two I can see myself racing a lot more as I did in Romandie and Switzerland where I was able to attack and not necessarily be followed by the leaders."

The Tour de France kicks off in Brest in the region of Brittany where it will begin its three-week voyage around the country with a brief dip into Andorra before the usual finish on the Champs Élysées in Paris.

The race also has two time trials, the first on stage five at 27.2km and the second on the penultimate stage over 30.8km.

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.