Michael Woods has been selected as Israel Start-Up Nation’s leader at the upcoming Tour de France, with Chris Froome’s inclusion in the team’s second-ever French Grand Tour still up in the air.
The Canadian is the first name confirmed for the Israeli outfit’s eight-man squad and will compete for stage victories and a good placing in the general classification.
“He has shown natural leadership for us. His successes in the Classics, the Tour de Romandie and Tour de Suisse have given him the confidence that he can play a part in the greatest cycling race of all,” sports director Rik Verbrugghe said.
“I expect him to fight for stage wins and compete for the [overall] standings, just like he did in Switzerland. The main focus of the team is on protecting Woods and supporting him where needed.”
This is confirmation, at least, that Froome will not be the out-and-out protected rider if he does make it into the Tour squad, the four-time champion having made the switch to Israel Start-Up Nation for 2021 as he looked to return to the French Grand Tour for the first time since 2018.
“I’m very happy with my selection,” Woods said. “I’ve been the leader in a Grand Tour before, but never in the Tour de France. We want to do well in the standings, but for me, the stage wins are really the most important. The team we have here has to be taken seriously.”
After struggling this season, as he tries continues to try and regain his previous form following the horrifying Critérium du Dauphiné crash in 2019, Froome has admitted he doesn’t go from his current form to winning the Tour in this short space of time.
“I don’t go from this level to winning the Tour de France in a few weeks,” Froome said. “I know where I’ve come from. A year ago I was on a bike, racing, before I could even walk properly. To be here in the Dauphiné walking properly, having no issues, being in the race is great progress already. I’m looking at those measurements. I know other people don’t see those measurements because they don’t see what happens behind the scenes.”