Michael Woods, fellow Canadian cyclist Riley Pickrell crash out of Giro d’Italia

Canadian riders Michael Woods and Riley Pickrell are out of the Giro d’Italia.

The two were involved in separate crashes Wednesday with Israel-Premier Tech teammate Nadav Raisberg going down in the same accident as Woods in Stage 5 of the Giro, which precedes the Tour de France and Spanish Vuelta on the Grand Tour calendar.

Pickrell’s face was bloodied and he lost his helmet in a crash with four other riders. Woods, Raisberg and another four riders were involved in a crash 10 kilometres later.

Israel-Premier Tech said Woods, from Ottawa, was ruled out after showing symptoms of a mild concussion overnight.

The team then made a “late decision” to withdraw Pickrell of Victoria from the race.

“His face bore the impact of the crash [Wednesday] and although he is feeling well enough to start, some slight confusion has been identified and the team is not willing to take the risk given the possibility of concussion,” the team said in a statement. “Riley needs time to recover and today’s stage is too risky, so the team has made the difficult decision to withdraw him from the race.”

The crash left Woods 107th in the general classification standings while Israel’s Raisberg, who broke his hand, was 164th and Pickrell 169th.

“We were gearing up for the climb when one rider caused a chain-reaction crash.” said Raisberg.

“My teammate, Mike Woods, fell, and I, who was riding right behind him, crashed over him and was thrown up. When I landed on my hands, I immediately knew something was broken, but I got back on the bike and prayed I was wrong.”

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6-year absence from race

Wednesday’s fifth stage covered 178 kilometres from Genova to Lucca.

Woods was returning to the Giro after a six-year absence, looking to complete a trifecta of Grand Tour stage victories.

In addition to a stage win at last year’s Tour de France, he won a stage in both the 2018 and 2020 editions of the Spanish Vuelta. Woods’s best result at the Giro was runner-up in the fourth stage in 2018.

The 37-year-old was competing in his third Giro and 11th Grand Tour race. Pickrell, 22, was in his first Grand Tour event.

The 107th edition of the Giro ends May 26 in Rome after 3,400 km of racing. The Tour de France and Spanish Vuelta, the other two Grand Tour events, begin June 29 and Aug. 17, respectively.

Woods, who has recovered from a virus that ruled him out of the Ardennes Classics earlier in April, has largely focused on the Tour de France and Spanish Vuelta since his last ride in the Giro in 2018.

Israel-Premier Tech is co-owned by Canadian-Israeli entrepreneur Sylvan Adams with fellow Canadian Kevin Ham also a partner in the team.

Head sports director Steve Bauer raced in nine editions of the Tour de France, finishing fourth overall in 1988 after winning a stage and spent five days in the leader’s yellow jersey. Bauer, just the second Canadian ever to lead the Tour after Alex Stieda in 1986, also wore the yellow jersey for nine straight days In 1990.

Israel-Premier Tech performance director Paulo Saldanha, coach Christopher Rozdilsky and team nutritionist Vanessa Zoras are also Canadians. And co-title sponsor Premier Tech is a Canadian company.

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