Dan­ger on the Porte bow

Mercury (Hobart) - - SPORT - REECE HOM­FRAY

FOR­MER pro­fes­sional run­ner Mike Woods has been dubbed the big­gest threat to Richie Porte win­ning his sec­ond Tour Down Un­der., which be­gins in Ade­laide to­day.

Cana­dian Woods will lead a strong Ed­u­ca­tion First team, which has been train­ing in Aus­tralia for two weeks.

He was third in last year’s world cham­pi­onships on a hilly course in Aus­tria and fin­ished fifth at his Tour de­but two years ago.

Tour Down Un­der 2015 win­ner Ro­han Den­nis said Woods was the man most likely to chal­lenge Porte.

“There are two guys to watch — Richie ob­vi­ously and Mike Woods,” Den­nis said.

“Mike looks like he’s in good form. He al­ways looks pretty lean, but he’s been look­ing to start the sea­son off on a high. No doubt he’s been train­ing pretty hard.

“We saw what he could do at the world cham­pi­onships last year in Inns­bruck, com­ing third, and that was a very steep climb — steeper than the Corkscrew or Wil­lunga. He’s go­ing to be right up there.

“And Richie … he’s won Wil­lunga the last five years, and he’s al­ways go­ing to be up there. One day one of us might beat him, but we have to hope for the best.”

Woods turned pro in 2016 after a suc­cess­ful mid­dledis­tance run­ning ca­reer.

He has fin­ished sev­enth over­all in the Vuelta a Es­pana and sec­ond in Liege-Bas­togne-Liege in the past two sea­sons.

The 32-year-old said he was ex­cited about the Corkscrew stage on Fri­day, and tak­ing on Porte on Wil­lunga on Sun­day.

Woods will be sup­ported by Aus­tralians Lachlan Mor­ton, Mitch Docker and neo pro James Whe­lan, as well as in­ter­na­tion­als Dan McCleay, Tom Scully and Al­berto Bet­tiol.

With the tem­per­a­ture ex­pected to nudge 40C to­day the cir­cuit fin­ish to Stage 1 from North Ade­laide to Port Ade­laide has been re­moved amid fears high winds could dis­rupt the gen­eral clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

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