With Chris Froome locking out Team Sky’s Tour de France leadership for the foreseeable future, opportunities to head up the team at a Grand Tour are hard to come by and Wout Poels is going to have to wait another year for his.
After possibly his best season to date, Poels cited his intentions to aim for the general classification at the Giro d’Italia towards the end of last year. However, he will not be heading to the Italian race this year, with Mikel Landa and Geraint Thomas set to co-lead, and will instead be back to support Froome at the Tour.
“If I can show myself in those races then they’ll have a little more confidence that I can lead a Grand Tour. This is the first step and then the second step could be a Grand Tour.”
“It’s a bit of a mental thing, especially if you go with Chris to the Tour. You have three weeks really on the limit. It’s quite stressful and then they say at the end of the Tour that you can go to the Vuelta, you’re not really jumping [saying] ‘yay, again three weeks on the limit’,” explained Poels.
The Ardennes and the Tour de France
The crux of Poels’ season will be the Tour de France where the team is looking for their fifth overall title and Froome is targeting his fourth.
Poels has become an indispensable part of Froome’s support network since joining Team Sky in 2015, and he is more often than not the last man standing in the mountains. His role may be even more pronounced this season with the Tour organisers designing a very different route.