The crash, caused by Lampre's Davide Vigano, brought down the peloton on what appeared to be a nondescript section of road. Poels got back on his bike and managed to ride 10km from the scene of the crash before abandoning. He was diagnosed with a ruptured spleen and kidney, as well as three broken ribs and bruised lungs and would later be transferred to a Maastricht intensive care unit.
The now 26-year-old has since recovered and signed for Omega Pharma-Quick Step after Vacansoleil decided to end the sponsorship of the team at the end of 2013 and repaid the faith place in him by the team by launching an impressive late attack on Stage 4 of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco which was helped by teammate Michal Kwiatkowski disrupting the efforts of the chasing group.
"It was a long, difficult stage," Poels said. "From kilometre zero until the finish the pace was really fast. But, the team worked really well and they controlled the race. The goal today was to try and move up a bit in the GC and, why not, see if there was a possibility to win the stage. In the final we were there playing with Kwiatkowski also there. Contador attacked and his efforts were really strong. But at a certain moment Contador, Valverde, and a few others started to look at each other.
"So I tried to take advantage of this situation and I went. I knew the final from last year as I raced here a year ago. I knew it was possible to pass the final climb and go to the finish. So, I went for it. When you have a good condition you are also able to take the right decision in a short time. So, that's exactly what happened today.
For Poels it is the first win with the new team and at WorldTour level, as well as his first victory since winning Stage 4 of the Tour de l'Ain in August last year.
"I am super happy about it. This is absolutely the most important victory of my career. I am super happy about it because after the big crashes I had at the Tour a few years ago I was able to come back. Now I am here, with this great team, and I won. So, I am over the moon. I've had a good feeling since the beginning of the season.
"I tried to be useful for the team when it's necessary and when I have a chance like today I try to grab it with both hands."