Poels won Liège in 2016, and was at the head of affairs on the final climb of the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons, but Astana's Jakob Fuglsang who made the decisive move at the top of the climb, taking eventual runner-up Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Michael Woods (EF Education First) with him initially, before soloing to the victory in Liège.
Poels finished alone as the 10th rider home, just ahead of Lotto Soudal's Tim Wellens and Team Sky teammate Michal Kwiatkowski.
"I think we hoped as a team for at least a podium finish, but in the end this was the maximum we could do today," Poels said via Team Sky's website.
"At the beginning, it was really tough with the cold and the rain – especially with it being such a long race," he continued. "The main thing was to keep warm, not get cold and keep refueling. That all went to plan, and then the finale was as brutal as expected.
"On the last climb, I was quite on the limit, so I was happy I could stay in that group. Then we tried to close the gap to the group in front of us, but it was tough. Then I thought I'd try something in the last two kilometres, and I was able to stay away for 10th," said Poels.
Team Sky becomes Team Ineos this week with the team set to wear a special, one-off black jersey for the start of the Tour de Romandie, before the true Team Ineos colours are unveiled ahead of the Tour de Yorkshire, which starts on Thursday, May 2.
Anti-fracking protesters have said that they'll target this year's Tour de Yorkshire stage race in order to raise awareness of the Ineos company's involvement in fracking. The petrochemical company is said to have an interest in rolling out the practice of fracking in the UK – the controversial underground process that releases shale gas, which is used in the manufacture of various plastics.
As Team Sky, the likes of Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas raced last year's Tour de France in jerseys promoting the Ocean Rescue campaign, which called for an end to single-use plastics.