Michael Woods' win on top of the Superga climb at the 2019 Milano-Torino was a masterpiece performance of tactics and fitness.
Here’s how Woods beat the best riders in the world in this Italian semi-classic.
Woods has grown into the leadership role at EF Education First, and he rises to the challenge when the team rides for him.
EF rode assertively all day, with Lachlan Morton helping to bring back the early break and Tanel Kangert and Alex Howes keeping Woods well-positioned into the base of the 5km Superga ascent.
Woods stayed well-positioned on the steep early slopes of the Superga climb and followed an attack from race favorite Jakob Fuglsang.
When Fuglsang sat up, Woods launched a perfect counter-attack to get an immediate gap.
With four kilometers still to climb, Woods rode within himself. His steady pace put pressure on the favorites behind him, but also saved energy for a final kick to the line.
When Jack Haig and Ion Izzagirre bridged across to Woods, he was unfazed by their lack of cooperation and rode his own race, taking what help he could get.
After he dropped Haig and Izzaguire, and David Gaudu bridged across, Woods was attentive in responding to each of Gaudu’s attacks.
In the final kilometer, Woods was absorbed by a group containing Alejandro Valverde, Egan Bernal, and Adam Yates. He didn’t panic, and followed wheels until the road reared back up at 300 meters to go.
Here, Woods unleashed an all-out sprint that had Valverde looking for podium places.
If Woods rides as strong and smart at Il Lombardia on Saturday, he might just win his first monument.