To kick off the Tokyo Olympics, one of the first events to be held will be the Men’s Cycling Road Race taking place on Saturday, July 24, 2021. Our M2M co-founder, Michael Woods, will be representing Canada at this race and we wanted to take the time to highlight his background, his start with M2M, and his preparation leading up to the big day.
Running and M2M
As a former elite distance runner, Mike still holds Canadian records in the U-20 Mile & 3000m. Considered one of Canada’s greatest junior distance runners, Mike took to cycling first as a means of cross-training after a recurring stress fracture kept him off the track. On the side, Mike began to coach runners in Ottawa, and with a small group of dedicated athletes, Dylan Wykes stepped in alongside Mike to help grow what we now know today as Mile2Marathon.
The transition to Cycling
After continuing to attempt a comeback in running, the writing was on the wall after Mike re-broke his navicular bone for the 3rd time in a local road race. Encouraged by the Ottawa Cycling community, Mike began to take his cycling more seriously and entered local road races as a means to stay fit and fuel his competitive nature. Mike quickly rose through the ranks of competitive cycling and at the age of 29, signed his first World Tour professional contract with Slipstream Sports, making him one of the oldest riders to ever turn pro.
Mike quickly made a name for himself in the professional ranks and is now considered one of the best cyclists in the world.
Note: Read this great profile on Mike in Business Insider.
After breaking his femur in February of 2020 in a horrible crash at Paris-Nice, Mike’s 2020 Olympic dreams looked like they were over. Then, COVID came. Race calendars across all sports were put on hold as the world came to a halt. Day by day, Mike worked towards the goal of being on the Olympic start-line.
With a new Olympic date set on the calendar, and after months of recovery and rehab, Mike came back to racing in the Fall of 2020 and produced some of the best results in his career to date. With wins at the Vuelta Espana, a podium at The Flèche Wallonne, and other top performances into the Spring and Summer of 2021, Mike earned the lead role of protected rider for the Canadian Olympic Men’s Road Cycling team.
If you have yet to do so, we encourage you to watch this CBC documentary about Mike and his family in the lead-up to the Olympics.
Preparation at The Tour de France
It had been talked about for a while among the pro peloton how The Tour de France (TdF) would be the best preparation for the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics Road Race. Even with just less than a week apart between the two events, most of the top cyclists agreed that this race would best prepare them for the grueling men’s 234-kilometer road race. The general consensus was that a 3-week stage race and the heat of the French summer would put riders in a good position to tackle the big day and the heat of Tokyo. That was until the 2021 TdF started.
On day one of the Tour, massive crashes saw many of the top GC contenders (Mike included) succumb to injury. Many had to drop out or continue the long three weeks ahead in pain and discomfort. This was followed up with further horrific crashes on Stage 3 that saw even more riders forced to abandon. Mike was one of the luckier riders to come away with some bad road rash. Additionally, what is typically a hot summer, has been anything but in France. With rides forced to compete in rain and cold weather, the heat adaptation they were looking for has been non-existent.
With GC no longer in the cards for Mike, he refocused his efforts and came home with 3rd place on Stage 8, a top 5, and the KOM jersey on Stage 14. Unfortunately, a crash on the final descent of Stage 14 put him on the back burner and he made the wise decision to leave the Tour on Stage 19 to properly recover in the short lead-up to the Olympics.
With this year’s Tour de France not following its usual plot, it will be interesting to see how this may change outcomes for the Men’s Olympic Road Race.
The Olympic Men’s Road Race
The first event on the Olympic schedule is the Men’s Road Race followed by the Women’s on Sunday. Here’s a quick profile of the race below:
- When: Saturday, July 24, 2021
- Time: 11 AM (*venue local time)
- 22:00 EST (Friday, July 23, 2021)
- 19:00 PT (Friday, July 23, 2021)
- How to Watch (in Canada): Tokyo 2020 coverage is split between a range of different broadcasters in Canada. If you’ve got a cable subscription, you can watch the Olympics on Sportsnet, TSN, CBC and TLN. Sportsnet, TSN and CBC will let you watch the action from Tokyo online, too – either by registering with details of your pay TV provider, or by signing up for a standalone streaming package.
- Profile: Favouring climbers, the men’s road race is 234 km in length, with 4865 meters of climbing and steep gradients. Read more about both the men’s and women’s road races and ‘who to watch’ here.
Join us in cheering on Mike and the rest of team Canada!