Tour de France: Poels bounces back to go top ten on stage 9
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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Tour de France: Poels bounces back to go top ten on stage 9

by Kyle Moore at 9:58 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
A year of work sees Dutchman go from hospital bed to mountain stage 7th place

Wout PoelsAfter cracking and losing over nine minutes on Saturday’s opening mountain stage to Ax 3 Domaines, Wout Poels (Vacansoleil-DCM) bounced back on Sunday’s grueling follow-up, finishing seventh on stage nine, tucked within the group of elite favourites.

The favourites group was led home by Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) in third place, as the bunch was 20 seconds behind stage winner Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) and runner up Jakob Fuglsang (Astana).

For Poels, it was a visible confirmation of his return to cycling’s biggest stage, after the entire cycling world saw him exit the Tour de France a year ago with a long list of devastating injuries. He crashed out in the massive pile-up on stage six, fracturing ribs, bruising a lung, and rupturing his spleen and a kidney. His injuries obviously meant the end of his season, but Poels completed the long road back this year in February, when he began his season at the Volta ao Algarve.

The Dutchman didn’t take long to find his way, as he was tenth in Tirreno-Adriatico and ninth in the Tour of the Basque Country.

Along with being an improving general classification rider, Poels is a climber by nature, having finished second on Alto de L’Angliru in the 2011 Vuelta a España. His potential led his Vancansoleil-DCM squad to name him as a leader in last year’s Tour, but the destructive crash dashed those hopes.

Poels rode like Vacansoleil’s GC leader again on Sunday, climbing with the front group during the grueling stage that featured five categorized ascents. He even attempted an attack on the final climb, with 35 kilometres to race, eventually getting hauled back on the descent.

“I changed to the big ring, and I immediately got a decent gap,” Poels explained of his attack after the stage. “But I don’t really have the motor on the descents, and the curves were difficult to estimate. I did not take any risks and instead rode down smartly. It would have been nice to catch up to those two [Martin and Fuglsang], but they were too far up the road. They deserved to win.”

Sunday’s solid result leaves Poels in 23rd place overall, 9’45” behind overall leader Chris Froome (Sky Procycling). Had Poels not suffered on stage eight, his GC spot would be one being talked about much more. Poels cracked and lost 9’15” to Froome on stage eight, but he bounced back and rode much better a day later, finishing seventh.

“It’s a nice place. It’s a top ten in a mountain stage of the Tour. It’s what I’ve always dreamed of and trained for. Yesterday I didn’t succeed, but all wasn’t lost. It happens often that you have a bad day but you are good again the day after. It’s just that a bad day at the Tour means you lose a lot of minutes. But today I could do what I had hoped for.”

In the general classification, Poels is within ten seconds of Garmin-Sharp’s Andrew Talansky, but faces almost a two-minute gap to Maxime Monfort (Radioshack-Leopard) above him.

“You can’t turn back the time loss from Saturday, but how it went for today is good for the confidence,” Poels stated after stage nine. “Not that I was very bad yesterday, but today was definitely a better day. Normally I get better gradually in a large tour, so I think there’s still more I can do.”


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