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VN news ticker: Michael Woods leaves Tour de France, French President heralds Tadej Pogačar

Here's the news making headlines for Friday, July 16.

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Michael Woods leaves Tour de France to focus on Olympic Games

Michael Woods will not start stage 19 of the Tour de France on Friday.

Israel Start-Up Nation confirmed Friday morning that the Canadian climber will sit out the final three days of the Tour so as to kick-start his build to the Olympic road race.

In order to recover properly from his past crashes in the Tour de France and to get ready for the Olympic Games, Michael Woods won’t take the start at today’s stage,” read a post on Twitter.

Woods did not have much left to aim for during the Tour’s two remaining sprint stages and penultimate-day time trial. He had lit up the Pyrénées during a series of skirmishes with Wout Poels as the two hunted the polka dot jersey only for Tadej Pogačar to top the classification Thursday after landing two consecutive summit finish victories.

Woods will now be looking to shake off any lingering issues from his stage 14 crash before jetting to Tokyo.

French President Emmanuel Macron hails Tadej Pogačar’s Tour de France triumph

French President Emmanuel Macron has hailed Tadej Pogačar as “a great champion” after awarding the defending Tour de France champion his yellow jersey Thursday.

“He is riding a formidable Tour de France,” Macron said. “He didn’t make the difference in one ride. I’m not going to say he crushed the Tour, but he built a colossal lead. Yesterday [Wednesday] and today [Thursday] he showed that he not only knows how to control and sustain his efforts, but he also animates the Tour de France. He is one of those great champions. It is his credit.”

Macron had ridden in one of the Tour’s race vehicles Thursday to witness Pogačar’s latest hammer blow on the Luz Ardiden. Pogačar’s summit finish sprint saw him complete a Pyrénéan double that makes him a shoo-in for overall victory.

Macron was also able to witness firsthand the deep roadside crowds and a typically attacking performance by French hero Julian Alaphilippe, who made it into the day’s break.

“I was also happy that the French experienced this ride,” he said. “When I got into the car of the Tour leaders in Saint-Marie-de-Campan, Julian Alaphilippe was in the lead. I congratulated him. He has the true warrior heart. He won the first stage and was still in the attack. I remember two years ago giving him the yellow jersey.”

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.