1986: Dean Woods leads the Australia team Team Pursuit at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games. (Photo: Tony Feder/ALLSPORT)

Australian cycling legend Dean Woods has died at 55

Woods was a three-time world champion, an Olympic gold medallist, and a 20-time national champion.

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Decorated Australian cyclist Dean Woods has passed away at the age of 55 after a battle with cancer. 

Woods was a three-time world champion and an Olympic gold medallist, best known for his performances on the track but with a skillset extending beyond the boards. His lengthy career also included a world record, 20 Australian titles, and 15 state championships in his home state of Victoria. 

Woods – at that point a dual individual world pursuit world champion – was selected for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games at  just 18 years old. He narrowly missed a bronze medal in the individual pursuit, and followed that performance as a key part of Australia’s gold medal winning performance in the team pursuit; the Australians beat the host nation by almost 4 seconds. 

The Victorian won four medals on the track at the 1986 Commonwealth Games – two gold, one silver, one bronze – before picking up a silver in the individual pursuit and a bronze in the team pursuit at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. 

He switched to road cycling in the late 1980s, and won the beloved Melbourne to Warrnambool Classic in 1990, with a time that is to this day the fastest ever recorded. The same year, he rode the Vuelta a España for Team Stuttgart, a race he returned to in 1991 for Team Telekom.

Woods on the road in 1989. (Photo: Cor Vos)

By 1994, he was back on the velodrome, winning another Commonwealth Games team pursuit gold medal as well as a points race bronze. He added to his trophy case with a 1995 team pursuit world championship, and a bronze medal in the same event at the Atlanta Olympics. 

After retiring from professional cycling at the age of 30, Woods entered the next stage of his life, opening a bike shop that, under the moniker Dean Woods Direct, was a pioneer in the early days of Australian cycling e-commerce. He also became something of a patron of the Wangaratta cycling scene – the regional Victorian town that he grew up in.

“Dean was an all-time Australian sportsperson, a legend who stood tall in any space,” said AusCycling Education Coordinator Greg Meyland in an online obituary. “Dean paved the way for many aspiring athletes and has the respect of a nation. A larrikin at times, a deep thinker, a dreamer and a doer, Dean would take an idea and get the job done.”

CyclingTips offers its condolences to Woods’ family and friends.

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