Strong Start for Canada’s Men
Good Early Season Results for Canada’s Men
With the European racing season just underway, most of Canada’s big name riders on the World Tour have hardly started racing. With form and target races still a bit off, there is nothing much to say about the likes of Christian Meier, Svein Tuft and Ryder Hesjedal. Their big races are yet to come.
Tuft and Meier will spend most of their season riding in support of the bigger names at Orica-GreenEdge including the likes of Simon Gerrans, Michael Matthews, and the Yates Twins. Tuft is also a key part of OGE’s strong time time trial squad. Hesjedal has never been able to rediscover his Giro winning form, but expect the lanky B.C. native to go stage hunting, like he did in last years Vuelta.
While Canada’s World Tour riders are just starting to look for their legs, the Canadian men of Optum p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies have been hard at work. The U.S. based Continental team has had a strong start to their season over in Portugal with a number of good showings from the Canucks in their squad.
Michael Woods has been a revelation for Optum p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies so far this season, picking up a couple notable results. Woods picked up the teams first win of the season when he soloed to victory in the one day race Classica Internacional Loule Capital Europeia do Desporoto. This win came on the heels of a very impressive 5th place on the Queen Stage of the Volta ao Algarve. Woods was able to keep pace with some of the biggest names in the sport up the final climb including stage winner Richie Porte and World Champion Michal Kwiatkowski. The Canadian wrapped up the Volta ao Algarve in 12th overall, 3 minutes 3 seconds behind winner Geraint Tomas.
Ryan Anderson picked up Optum’s second win of the season by taking out the sprint on Stage 2 of the Trofeu Alpendre Internacional do Guadiana. Optum p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies strung out a perfect lead out for Anderson. It was so perfect that fellow Canuck Guillaume Boivin managed to hang on to third place on the stage and open a 3 second gap with fourth place. Anderson won the points competition in the 2 stage race thanks to his win on stage 2 and a 3rd place finish on stage 1.
Alongside Anderson and Woods, Guillaume Boivin has had a strong start to the season since moving from World Tour team Cannondale. As noted above, Boivin finished third after leading out Anderson in Guadiana. The Montreal native also finished 5th in the one day race Classica Internacional Loule Capital Europeia do Desporoto, which Woods won.
With Optum p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies returning to North America for the domestic season and the European season heating up, there will be plenty more opportunities for Canadians to get on the podium. With Canada well represented at the Continental level, look for an exciting season of race in North America with Canadians at the forefront.