After years of claiming titles in various sports, Ottawa native Michael Woods is about to enter his first Tour de France.
The race will start on July 7, in Brussels, Belgium at 10:00 a.m. CEST, and end in Paris, France on July 28.
The cyclist will compete alongside of seven other bikers as part of the American team, EF Education.
Woods, who originally started out playing hockey, abandoned the sport for running after realizing his small frame was better suited for it. But after a series of stress fractures, something he attributes to poor guidance, diet, and over-training, Woods was forced to give it up. He attempted many comebacks over the years, only to retire from the sport after breaking his foot in 2011.
It’s during this time that he found himself turning to his bike as a way to cross train and alleviate stress.
Woods, who still claims the title of running the fastest mile on Canadian soil, by a Canadian, says he used to steal his dad’s bike and go for rides when he was injured. He also adds that it was cathartic for him and served as a way to fill the hole that running left behind.
After taking up cycling and with his wife's encouragement, it didn’t take long for him to realize his potential. And so, at the age of 25, he decided to become a pro athlete again, this time as a cyclist.
Over the years, Woods has managed to establish himself as one of the top climbers in North America. In 2015, he participated in the Tour of Utah, and claimed his first professional victory in the race’s 5th stage. This also earned him a spot on the 2016 Cannondale Pro Cycling team at 29, making him one of the oldest neo pros in cycling history.
If Woods wins, the Tour de France, this would make him the second Canadian to win a grand European tour.