TOKYO -- The strategy for Canadian cyclist Michael Woods put him within striking distance of victory, but ultimately he fell just short of securing a spot on the podium at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Ottawa cyclist led for much of the thrilling 234-kilometre men's road race at Fuji International Speedway but crossed the finish line in fifth place, milliseconds out of a podium spot.

Ecuador's Richard Carapaz won the race after creating a heathy gap on his nearest pursuers in the final stretches of the race -- a group that included Woods. Carapaz crossed the finish line in six hours, five minutes and 26 seconds.

Carapaz climbed to the top step of the podium, with Belgian Wout van Aert taking second place and Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia coming in third.

Woods was involved in this final sprint featuring nine riders, but he was unable to get the final edge on van Aert and Pogacar.

With about 40 kilometres to go, Woods took the lead alongside Pogacar and American Brandon McNulty.

The trio was overtaken by two groups of four cyclists, then finally by the German Maximilian Schachmann and Simon Yates of Britain.

McNulty and Carapaz, third in this year's Tour de France, began to break away with 24 kilometres left in the race. Woods was unable to follow and was caught by the chase group.

Carapaz made one last push and managed to distance himself from McNulty, heading for gold.

Decorated Dutch rider Bauke Mollema was fourth.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2021.