Poels inspires Froome's resurrection at the Giro d'Italia

Chris Froome's resurrection and stage victory on Monte Zoncolan came at the same moment as that of his trusted wingman Wout Poels (Team Sky). Without the Dutchman's return to his role of loyal teammate and leadout man in the mountains, Froome would perhaps have not won atop Monte Zoncolan on Saturday and so would not have turned his Giro d'Italia around from a sense of looming disaster to a sense that now anything is possible.

Poels dragged Froome from the darkened forests of the lower slopes of the Zoncolan, setting up his final, decisive attack. At the same time Poels' constant high pace hurt everyone else, especially Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), who was eventually cut adrift when Froome surged away with 4.3km to go.

"I'm not surprised. Wout is a classy rider," Froome said of his teammate with real gratitude after winning the stage and pulling back 37 seconds on Dumoulin.

"It's not the first time he's been with me on a big mountain stage. Last year he did it on the Angliru, and even finished second. It's great to see him back, to see him have a good day.

"We made that call on the road. We said if I feel good, we'd make the race faster. He was a big part of that. He saw that Tom was at the back and struggling a bit, so he went to the front, set a good pace and lined it out. I didn't need to do much more. Everything was done," Froome explained.

While Froome showered the crowd and the many photographers with local Prosecco, Poels was a little further down past the finish getting changed for the 4km to the team-bus parking.

He was just as happy, as Team Sky ended a difficult two weeks of suffering and doubts after Froome was left in pain after his crash before the opening time trial in Jerusalem. Poels has been fighting for his own resurrection after fracturing his collarbone at Paris-Nice. He was back in training for an altitude camp but then struggled in the Ardennes Classics, exactly a year after winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

He was unable to help Froome early in the Giro d'Italia but, like his team leader, he bounced back when needed to most: on the Zoncolan, on the first of the big mountain stages in the north of Italy. He finally enjoyed a good day as he suffered on the steep slopes of the Zoncolan.

"We had a lot of confidence. We all felt better today, and we knew the steep climbs really suit us, like last year on the Angliru at the Vuelta. So it's really nice that Chris could win the stage," Poels said modestly, but with huge satisfaction.

"I could see in Chris' face that he was strong. I looked a few times. It's pretty cool he could finish it off. Hopefully we can do something again like this in the rest of the Giro."

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