This piece from CyclingTips about Mike Woods’ ride to second place at Liège-Bastogne-Liège offers an in-depth analysis of his performance.
Pierre Rolland was in a good mood at the start of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Asked by his EF Education First-Drapac team communications manager who was going to win the race, Rolland exclaimed ‘me!’ with a smile.
Team directeur sportif Tom Southam verified that Rolland was indeed in fine shape. “He can be good here. This is a really good race for Pierre,” he told CyclingTips, while also naming others on the team as tips.
In the end, though, it was a different pink-jerseyed rider on the podium. Michael Woods had an astonishing race, riding with all the big guns and then jumping clear with Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) inside the final three kilometres.
Bardet is a rider who has finished second and third overall in the Tour de France. To see Woods pulling with him in the finale showed how much progress the former middle-distance runner has made. The duo overhauled Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Soudal) on the final climb, the Cote de Ans, and then sprinted for second place, 37 seconds behind the solo winner Bob Jungels.
Woods had more speed than his rival and grabbed the race’s runner-up slot. It was a stunning ride in what is arguably the hardest one-day race for climbers. It was also the best showing of his career.