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Woods left the Tour de France early to travel to Tokyo for his second Olympic Games, but at least he’s going.
Ex-pro Craven — who had earned a spot on the Namibian national team — won’t be.
“I have been dreaming about Tokyo 2020 basically since the Rio Olympics ended in 2016,” Craven told The Namibian newspaper. “I have been working towards it specifically and pig-headedly since the end of 2017 — that’s four years now that I’ve been working specifically towards this goal. So, a lot of time and effort and personal finances have gone towards this, and it all changed from one little virus.”
Craven, who is based in Spain, indicated he had been unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccination through the Spanish national health care system.
“I am unvaccinated and that is not by choice — my wife and I are based in Spain, where we have been fighting the system for months,” Craven said. “We have been doing everything in our power to get the vaccine, but the bureaucratic system to get registered has just been crazy, and two hours after I tested positive, I got a phone call saying I can come in for my vaccine, and that was pretty hard.”
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Craven, 38, last raced as a pro in 2017 with Israel Cycling Academy. He continued to train and won the Namibian national title in February, a result that helped open the door for a return to the Olympic Games.
Craven also raced the Olympics in 2012 and 2016. In Rio de Janeiro, he caused a stir when he raced the men’s time trial race as a late call-up to fill an unexpected starting slot, and raced on a road bike fixed with aero-bars and no disc wheels.
A pre-Games health screening means Craven won’t be starting his third Olympic Games. Tristan de Lange will replace Craven for Namibia’s lone starting slot.
“I caught the virus on a training ride with three other people — one person had it, but the two other people did not get it,” Craven said. “If I can catch the virus on a training ride, I think it’s extremely scary and people really need to be careful.”
Michael Woods moves from one ‘bubble’ to another
Woods, meanwhile, traveled from the Tour de France bubble to the Olympic version of the health restrictions.
The Canadian pulled out of the Tour early after battling for the King of the Mountains jersey and did not start stage 19. He traveled to Tokyo a few days ahead of some of his would-be rivals, who finished the Tour on Sunday in Paris and flew overnight to Japan.
“I came from the Tour, straight to the hotel here in Gotemba which is the [Olympic] cycling village. And the hotel is filled exclusively with cyclists, basically everybody from the road race,” Woods told CBC and other reporters on a media call. “So it feels like I’ve gone from the Tour de France, which was a cycling bubble, to the same cycling bubble.”
Also read: Michael Woods leaves Tour de France early
Woods, 34, will start his second Olympic Games, and is a front-line medal hope for elite men’s road race Saturday.
The battle for the iconic polka dot jersey could be the race to watch as the Tour de France hits the high mountains Wednesday.
— VeloNews (@velonews) July 14, 2021
Woods said he’s feeling better despite crashing a few times during the Tour, but said the health restrictions make for what he called a “bizarre” experience so far in Japan.
“I’m seeing the exact same people in the hotel that I saw in France, that I see back in Andorra when I’m home or in Girona in Spain,” he said. “We’re not allowed to leave the hotel except for training [rides]. We’re not allowed to stop on the training. So aside from the fact that you see Mount Fuji and the street signs are in Japanese, you really don’t feel like you are in Japan. It is such a tight bubble.
“It doesn’t feel like I’m in Japan,” he told reporters in a virtual availability early Tuesday in Japan. “It’s quite bizarre.”