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Michael Woods in the Tour de France: “I still run”

Why the former middle-distance runner, who has become one of Canada's most successful cyclists ever, still runs for fitness

Michael Woods

Michael Woods is the Canadian sub-4-minute miler who’s in the middle of his first Tour de France, racing for the US-based EF Education First team. He finished Stage 5 in 59th position but maintains his 10th place position overall despite an early crash, and it’s expected he’ll win a stage, since he excels on the hills. A native of Ottawa, Woods has held the Canadian U20 mile record (3:57.48) since 2005. He was a multi-year national champion in running and won gold at the Pan American Junior Championships during his early years.

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Woods told Business Insider that even though he spends 30 hours a week in the saddle, he still runs once or twice a week (outside of the Tour). Woods cites the weight-bearing nature of running for helping him maintain bone density and overall health, and for efficiency in achieving fitness, calling running “a way better and bigger bang for your buck” than cycling, in terms of fitness gains per time spent.

Now 32 and in his fourth year as a pro rider, Woods was relatively old when he joined the circuit, and he’s realistic about the likely duration of his cycling career. “I’m not going to be a professional athlete for the rest of my life. I want to have kids. I want to have a family. There are going to be so many things pulling at me for time,” he says.

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After high school, Woods went on to run for the University of Michigan, but suffered repeated injuries to his foot that ultimately led him to call it a career. While Woods was injured, he regularly took to the bike as a form of cross-training. What began as a means to an end for running has turned into one of the most successful cycling careers in Canadian history. Woods was a bronze medalist at the 2018 Road World Championships and won a stage of last year’s Vuelta a Espana, a grand tour where riders often find success before moving to the stronger Tour field.

Woods is the first Canadian in the Tour de France since 2016.