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Michael Woods is starting the Giro d’Italia with some of ‘the worst form ever,” but has plans for success

Michael Woods

On the afternoon ahead of Stage 1 of the Giro d’Italia, Michael Woods finished a late lunch following the team’s training ride. He walked out of the Israel-Premier Tech meal bus into a parking lot by a hotel far from the heart of Giro activity in Turin. The start of the opening stage is in Venaria Reale just to the north of Turin proper. The first day of racing ends in the northern Italian city. Unlike some teams—Cofidis and Arkéa-B&B Hotels—that were given hotels in the city by race organizer RCS, IPT and another team had found themselves based 60 km to the northeast. But Woods and the squad would be in the thick of the action soon enough.

He sat down at a picnic table, commuter trains whizzing nearby, and reflected quite honestly on his condition ahead of 21 stages of racing. “I’ve had a very difficult start to the season,” Woods said. “Several viruses have really impacted my performances. My confidence is lower. Fitness isn’t great. It’s probably one of the worst forms I’ve ever entered a Grand Tour in, but I’m still excited to get into the race.”

Woods is planning to ride into shape and hopes to snag a Giro stage win. He has two Vuelta a España stages on his palmares, as well as the win on the Puy de Dôme at the 2023 Tour de France. Although he’s raced the Giro in 2017 and 2018, a stage victory has eluded him. He was close, however, in 2018. “I came second to Tim Wellens. I just left it a bit too late,” Woods said. “Not winning that stage has really almost haunted me a bit because I want stages from the three Grand Tours. I think there aren’t many opportunities for me to achieve some big goals left in cycling.” Woods’s contract with IPT runs until the end of 2025. At the moment, he’s pretty sure he won’t look to renew.

The closest Michael Woods has come to a Giro d’Italia stage win was in 2018 on Stage 4. He was second to Tim Wellens. Image: Sirotti

Riding into shape sounds like an old school strategy, one no longer used by riders with such precise training and nutrition plans. But illness and injuries happen. A rider has to work with them. And, Woods has come to a Grand Tour in rough shape before. “I crashed at the Tour of Utah in 2018. I flew back to Europe, in economy, with this terrible road rash,” he said. “Like, the leg was totally ripped apart. After the flight, I ended up getting a lot of swelling. It got infected, and it was brutal. When I touched it, it was like cheese pizza, like…

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