June 28, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – Canada’s Mike Woods (Cannondale-Garmin) had a great early season, finishing fifth at Australia’s Santos Tour Down Under in January. Things changed when he broke his hand at an unfortunate crash at the Liège-Bastogne-Liège classic race in April, and he now has his sights set on the Rio 2016 Olympics. Pedal caught up with the cyclist from Ottawa to find out more about his recuperation and plans ahead.
You broke three bones when you went down at the Liege crash in April and damaged your back – how did it happen?
Mike Woods: I was just following the wheel in front of me, and all of the sudden the ground opened up. I hit a pothole and was bucked off the bike. There really wasn’t anything I could do in the situation, it was just bad luck. I ended up landing on my back and hands, but the left hand took most of the impact. I ultimately fractured my 3rd, 4th and 5th metacarpals.
You were having a pretty good early season – has there been any positive side to this?
MW: Yeah the start to the season was going really well. I had good form in all of the early races (despite falling ill between Catalunya and Pais Vasco). I think I really demonstrated that I belong in the World Tour, and it has also been an opportunity to reassess what I originally thought I was capable of, and what I want to achieve in this sport.
In terms of the crash, like all crashes there are always some positive take-aways. I really wanted to do the Giro, or even the Tour, this season, but because of the crash, this will not happen. However, in breaking my hand I have been able to spend some time working on my seated power, and improving my position on the bike.
What was going through your mind when the crash happened and you were lying there?
MW: It wasn’t a fun moment, that’s for sure. I was near the front of the peloton when I went down so the entire peloton was coming at me while I was on the ground. As scary as it was, it was definitely a reminder of how well the World Tour peloton can handle their bikes.
How long were you off your bike and when did you start riding again…?
MW: I wasn’t off the bike for too long. I took about 4-5 days completely off the bike, but once my back was loose enough to enable me to throw a leg over the saddle, I started riding the trainer. At about the 3-week mark I started riding outside again.
You were in Canada for much of your convalescence; what were you doing apart from rehabilitation?
MW: Yes, I spent a lot of time here in Canada as well as in Colorado doing an altitude camp. I have been very fortunate to have the support of my team Cannondale Pro cycling and B2Ten. They, along with my coach, Paulo Saldanha, have put together a great integrated support team that has helped with my rehab, so I have been travelling a bit between Montreal and Ottawa in order to work with the B2Ten team. Apart from rehabing, I have been riding my bike, and getting things in order back here in Canada, as I had been on the road quite a bit before the injury.
The Road Nationals are on now in Ottawa – how tough is it to miss this event in your home town ?
MW: I am a proud Ottawa native, and I am really thankful that I come from such a strong cycling community. The people that have been working tirelessly to put together this year’s event have been doing an amazing job, and I am gutted not be able to take part in the road race and crit. My hand is in really good shape at the moment, but I want to give it 1-2 more weeks of rest before I get into a true race environment. This being said, I will be racing the Time Trial on Tuesday (June 28) – check out our live TT race here.
Rumour has it you will do the Tour of Poland this July. Is there anything special about this race that will help prepare you for Rio?
MW: Tour of Poland is going to be a great way to prep for Rio. I know my teammate, Rigoberto Uran, is also using this race as a way to prep for Rio, and my directors at Cannondale Pro Cycling have all said that this will be a good opportunity to put the final preparations in before the Games. There are three days in this race that go longer than 200km, and there are some punchy hills throughout the race, so I am really looking forward to it.
I also just wrapped up a mini training camp with my coach, where we did a mock Rio race. I spent a lot of time sitting behind Paulo on the moped in the Eastern townships and Vermont, and I think these miles at race pace will pay dividends come Rio.
Will you be fully recovered for Rio in August? How do you see your chances of making one of the three berths for the Canadian men in the road race?
MW: Yes, barring another incident at the races between now and the Games (knock on wood) I will be 100% recovered. I definitely feel that I have made a solid case for my selection to the team. The Rio course really suits my skill-set, and my results throughout the season have shown that I can have a top result at this race.
You’ve done well at the Tour of Alberta and the two Canadian WorldTour races in Quebec in Sept. – are these races also being considered ?
MW: I love these races. I have participated in every TOA since its inception, and the WT races in Quebec and Montreal, for me, are almost like home races. I do however also want to take part in a Grand Tour this year, so depending on how the next month goes, I will have the discussion with my directors and we will have to weigh the benefits of racing in Canada vs getting a Grand Tour under my belt.
During an earlier interview we did this year, you mentioned B210. What role did this Montreal company play in your rehabilitation?
MW: They have been instrumental in this rehabilitation. I remember watching the 2010 Vancouver Olympics on TV six year ago and seeing Jennifer Heil (an Olympic Gold Medalist in Freestyle skiing) doing an interview where she talked about how B2Ten enabled her to reach another level in her abilities. B2Ten has certainly had the same influence on me. Having access to some of the best doctors, therapists and strength and conditioning coaches in the country, without the worry of financial burden, has cut down my recovery time, and enabled me to push more watts on the bike. Canada would certainly be a dominant force in sport if we had more organizations like them in this country.
Good luck in Tuesday’s TT and the rest of the season – pls send us a postcard from Rio!