At 36, Michael Woods is enjoying the best season of his career, winning La Route d’Occitanie-La Dépêche du Midi for the second year in a row and finally taking the Tour de France stage victory he has been seeking, bringing his Grand Tour stage triumph mark up to three. On Saturday, Woods will round out the year at the season’s final Monument, Il Lombardia, the Race of the Falling Leaves.
So far the Monuments have been won by Mathieu van der Poel (Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix), Tadej Pogačar (Tour of Flanders) and Remco Evenepoel (Liege-Bastogne-Liege). On Saturday, Woods will face Pogačar, Evenepoel and Giro d’Italia champ Primoz Roglič.
The 238-km Race of the Falling Leaves will start in Como alongside the race and head up the famed Madonna del Ghisallo early. The last major climb is the Passo di Ganda that crests 32 km from the finish line in Bergamo. There’s the smallest of bumps just before the line.
Last season Pogačar beat Enric Mas in a two-up sprint to defend his title. Woods did not finish, but he’s been in the top 10 twice. Recently, Woods came fifth in Giro dell’Emilia and sixth in Tuesday’s Tre Valli Varesine.
— Israel – Premier Tech (@IsraelPremTech) October 3, 2023
Focus will be on Giro dell’Emilia victor Roglič on Saturday, as that should be the day when he announces which team he’ll be racing for next year after much speculation. There will be special consideration for 2018 champion Thibaut Pinot in the last race of his career.