Michael Woods abandons the Tour of the Basque Country 2021 after crash on stage three

The Canadian rider was close to the front of the peloton with just over three kilometres to go before he went down with Wilco Kelderman

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Michael Woods has been forced to abandon the 2021 Tour of the Basque country following a crash on stage three of the race. The Israel Start-Up Nation rider crashed in the closing kilometres of the third stage, hitting the deck along with Wilco Kelderman close to the front of the peloton.

Woods was being placed towards the front before the final climb of the day by his team-mate Patrick Bevin when he crashed on the exit of a corner along with Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe), who abandoned the race there and then.

The Canadian rider finished at almost 10 minutes down on the eventual stage winner, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), alongside his team-mate Ben Hermans.

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Israel Start-Up Nation Tweeted: "Michael Woods will not start the fourth stage of the Tour of the Basque Country.

"Following his crash yesterday, Mike was diagnosed with a badly bruised left hand and shoulder. Following advice of Israel Start-Up Nation medical staff, Mike will take a break from racing in order to speed his recovery."

The team also sent out a video from Woods where he said he was "disappointed" to abandon the race but did not want to risk injuring himself further ahead of the Ardennes Classics.

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The 34-year-old has had a solid start to the season having taken a win at the Tour du Var as well as second overall behind Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo), finishing in the top 10 of every stage.

He also showed good legs in the high mountains against some of the best in the world at the Volta a Catalunya where he came 11th overall, taking second place on the queen stage of the race.

The Tour of the Basque Country was heading in the same direction after a relatively strong time trial on the opening day followed by a fifth place finish the day after.

This break comes at a bad time for Woods as he is hoping to lead the Israel Start-Up Nation team at the upcoming Ardennes Classics at the end of this month before heading to the Tour of Romandie, Critérium du Dauphiné, and then the Tour de France to potentially support Chris Froome.

Kelderman's Bora-Hansgrohe sports director, Jens Zemke said: "It looked very good for us until the final climb. Our riders stayed together and made quite a strong impression. Unfortunately, there was a crash before the final climb and as a result Wilco [Kelderman] had to abandon the race due to injury.

"It's a shame to lose him again to a crash, especially with him having just come back from injury."

Kelderman is also hoping to ride a full Ardennes Classic campaign as well as Romandie, the Dauphiné and then. the Tour.

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