Michael Woods will be leaving EF Pro Cycling to become Chris Froome’s “right hand man” at Israel Start-Up Nation.
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Woods, winner of a Vuelta a España stage in 2018, will be leaving his current team to join Start-Up Nation to become Froome’s super-domestique as the squad target the Tour de France from next season.
The Canadian has revealed how team owner Sylvan Adams and coach Paolo Saldanha encouraged and supported him to become a professional cyclist at the age of 27.
Woods said: “Paulo and Sylvan are the reason that I am a pro cyclist today.
“I first met Paulo in 2013, and he immediately took me under his wing. He pushed me to quit my jobs (working as a bank teller and at a bike shop), and he told me I had the ability to be a pro. Because of my age (27 at the time), I was too old to qualify for government grants or get a place on a development team. It was difficult for me to justify leaving my job. However, Paulo connected me with Sylvan, and the two of them invested in me when nobody else would. Through their support and belief, I managed to rise through the cycling ranks and make it to the highest level of the sport.”
Israel Start-Up Nation have recently signed Daryl Impey, Carl Fredrik Hagen and Patrick Bevin for next season.
Woods, now 33, reached the WorldTour with Cannondale-Drapac back in 2016 and has since picked up a Vuelta stage, victory in Milan-Torino last season, and podium finishes in both Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the World Championships.
Canadian-Israeli billionaire Adams said: “It gives me particular pleasure to welcome Mike Woods to ISN. I’ve known him since before he turned pro, and I’ve watched his development as a rider, becoming one of the world’s elite. He will be an indispensable super-domestique to Chris Froome’s Tour de France bids beginning next year and will have an equally important role as our team leader in Classics and Monuments.”
Woods started his elite sport career as a runner, but was forced to retire due to a recurring injury to his foot but reinvented himself as a cyclist with Québecor Garneau in 2013.
He said: “I have had five great years with Slipstream Sports (EF)which made making the decision to leave their program difficult. However, when it comes down to it, Paulo and Sylvan have believed in me from day one, and I am very excited to reciprocate that belief and be a part of ISN in 2021.”