No traditional Tour de France tune-up stage race for Michael Woods, the Mont Ventoux Challenge instead


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The first two times Michael Woods raced the Tour de France, he took on one of the traditional warm-up stage races beforehand, the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2019 and the Tour de Suisse–in which he won the King of the Mountains–last season. But on Tuesday, while the third stage of the Tour de Suisse rolled to the east, Woods, expected to be on La Grande Boucle’s start line in Copenhagen on July 1, raced the fourth edition of the one-day Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge in France, perhaps in hope of taking crucial UCI points for his beleaguered Israel-Premier Tech team.

Although Rusty was in on the action on the lower slopes of the second clamber up Ventoux, he wasn’t in the mix for the final two-thirds of the 18.5 climb. Israel-Premier Tech’s UCI points would come from Guy Niv in 14th. Woods and compatriot James Piccoli finished on the same time, +13:15, in 37th and 36th place.

EF Education-Easypost took 213 UCI points, with Ruben Guerreiro and Esteban going one-two atop the Giant of Provence.

1st and 2nd on top of Ventoux 👌 pic.twitter.com/HOpfNFKf8Z

— EF Pro Cycling (@EFprocycling) June 14, 2022

In the women’s first edition, Marta Cavalli earned the day’s flowers. The top Canadian was Clara Edmond of Emotional.fr-Tornatech-GSC Blagnac VS31 in 14th.

🏆 Victoire de @marta_cavalli98 !! 💥#MVDC pic.twitter.com/R7ghyMyIXj

— FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope (@FDJ_NAqui_Fut) June 14, 2022

The Course

There were a few small climbs to prepare the legs early in the day, but Tuesday’s race was all about the double ascent of Mont Ventoux. First, a 24.5 km, 4.9 percent climb from Sault, before an 18.5 km, 7.9 percent assault from Bédoin.

Movistar pushed the pace in the peloton in the valley between Ventoux I and II, continuing to reel in the five breakaways. By the time the quartet headed up the Giant of Provence for the final time, it had a 1:30 gap. The fugitive group finally began to fragment.

EF Education-Easypost joined Movistar in capturing the escapees until only Astana’s Aleksandr Riabushenko was left. In the trees before Chalet Reynard, EF’s pace-making continued to pop riders off the back of the already streamlined peloton. Woods stayed tight on the pink and green team’s wheels.

With 13 km to ride, Alejan

…. to be continued
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