Not quite two weeks ago, we reached out to all our #SaveArgyle donors to tell them about a fantastic offer from our new team owners EF Education First. By virtue of their #SaveArgyle donation, all our donors were entered into a drawing for one donor and a guest to take a four-day, three-night trip to Paris for the final stage of the 2018 Tour de France on July 29th. The prize includes roundtrip airfare, three-night hotel stay, VIP passes in Paris and an invite to our post-Tour party with all our Tour riders and staff.
For EF this offer made sense. Not only did it allow us to continue to offer exclusive opportunities to our most loyal fans, but it also embodies EF’s mission to open the world through education, leveraging their expertise to deliver our lucky recipient and guest a once-in-a-lifetime, behind-the-scenes experience to the best global sporting event in the world.
And that lucky recipient is: Tony Woods
The more we learn about him, the more excited we are to meet him in Paris next month. Get to know our Paris prize winner in the Q&A below.
Q: Let’s start with the basics. Tell us a little bit about your background
My name is Julian Anthony (Tony) Woods. I’m 44 from Dublin, Ireland. My partner Helen and I have two daughters, Nina (6) and Sophia (4). I am the owner, with my brother, of a small independent Wine Importer / Wholesaler – Woods Wines. We’ve been in business 20 years this year and supply restaurants and retailers all over Ireland.
Apart from family my main interests are all based around cycling, food and wine. If I’m not working or out on the bike I’m usually at home cooking and trying (and usually failing) to get my kids more interested in food. If not in the kitchen I’ll be in the garage building or fixing a bike.
Q: Who will you be taking with you on this trip?
I will be taking my partner Helen Skerrett – she’s as excited as I am.
Q: What’s your connection to #PinkArgyle?
As a really keen cycling fan, I have followed the team since its earliest days through all it’s guises right up to now. A lot of why I like them is how the team seems approachable by the fans. On twitter the riders always come across really positively and the spirit within the team seems genuine.
Another factor that draws me to the EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale squad in the loyalty shown by so many of the senior riders when the team went through the difficulties. We all know professional sport can be a fickle and ruthless place so I thought the loyalty shown to Jonathan Vaughters et al. was very admirable.
Q: Why did you donate to the #SaveArgyle team?
This was a very easy decision. On hearing about the possible disbanding of the team I followed the story with interest. I felt the Jonathan Vaughters put forward an honest and compelling argument as to why he went down the crowdfunding route so I signed up that day. I was then very pleased when EF, a totally new face to cycling, signed up to the team and facilitated its survival. Cycling needs new faces / sponsors to bring the sport on, so hopefully this will start a trend throughout the sport.
Q: What’s your favorite moment in the team’s history?
From 2017, it would have to be Rigoberto Uran’s efforts during last years Tour. The sheer determination he showed to finish on the podium was amazing.
This year I’ve enjoyed watching Sep Vanmarcke ride the classics. I realise he didn’t get the results he would have wanted but I love watching how he races – the no-surrender attitude is brilliant.
Q: What’s your personal connection to cycling? Do you ride? Race? Follow races online/on TV avidly?
Cycling plays a huge role in my life. Apart from being a massive fan I take part in many aspects of the sport.
I race at least twice a week during the season: in Cycling Ireland open races, on the Track (velodrome) but mostly in the Irish Veteran Cyclists Association (IVCA) races. The IVCA run an annual league of 20+ road races and TTs. It is a fantastic league with riders aged 40 to 80+. Races are graded and handicapped according to ability and age so everyone get a fair go. The riders include everyone from keen club riders, top Irish racers to ex pro riders. 2018 is going well for me with a win and lots of top 10s.
I am also current secretary of Clontarf Cycling Club – my local club. It’s a great club with 135 members. We are a very open club with a large leisure group as well as the racing groups. Even though we haven’t been up and running too long (only six years) we have grown really quickly and have developed a great reputation in the Irish cycling scene.
When I have time, and they need me, I also do mechanic / team-aide work for the Irish Paracycling development squad. This is small squad of developing para riders with hopes to move up to the Irish elite squad. I became involved with the squad through their coach, two-time Paralympic Cyclist Cathal Miller, and I work with them whenever I have the time or they need my help. I have attended training camps and races with them in Mallorca, Bilbao and Manchester velodrome. It’s basically working / volunteering at my hobby so I absolutely love it – I just wish I had the time to do more of it.
Q: How do you include travel as part of your life?
I don’t get to travel as much as I’d like but who does? I go to Europe for work, going to various wine expos etc. Family holidays would usually be spent in Brittany, Northern France – the kids just love it.
The best trip I’ve taken would have to be a holiday Helen and I to South Africa over 10 years ago. It was our first big holiday together and we just had a fantastic experience. The wildlife, the food and wine and just the people made it a magic experience.
Q: What’s most exciting to you about this upcoming trip to Paris?
It impossible to pin down any one thing – to be honest the whole trip sounds amazing. I love Paris, #PinkArgyle and cycling, what’s not to get excited about?
Q: We talk a lot about teamwork and the concept of team both within the cycling team and within EF. What does “team” mean to you?
I have played team sports all my life, rugby when I was younger and cycling always. While playing / racing teamwork is all about working together for the win or the common goal but outside the arena it just means watching out for your friends.