Wout Poels (Team Sky) sacrificed his chances of success at the Tour de France to help Chris Froome win for a third time but on Friday night the Dutchman got a chance to win himself, taking the RaboRonde criterium in Heerlen before travelling to Rio for the Olympic Games.
The 28-year-old Dutchman, triumphed in front of his home crowd, with a reported 45,000 people enjoying the evening racing as Poels beat Stef Clement (IAM Cycling) and Dutch champion Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo).
At the Tour de France, Poels – who won Liege-Bastogne-Liege in April, was often the last Team Sky rider available to support and protect Chris Froome during the race. Poels played a fundamental role when Froome crashed in the rain on stage 19 to Saint-Gervais and rode to the finish on Geraint Thomas’ bike. Poels paced his teammate and controlled attacks, earning a grateful pat on the back from Froome as they crossed the line.
Poels will race against Froome in the road race putting their friendship and loyalty on hold for a day before perhaps riding together at the Vuelta a Espana.
Poels also rode in the nearby Boxmeer earlier in the week but was beaten by Clasica San Sebastian winner Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo). The two will fly to Rio this weekend as part of a strong four-rider Dutch squad for the Olympic road race that also includes Steven Kruijswijk and Tom Dumoulin.
Dumoulin crashed out of the Tour de France on stage 19, fracturing the radius bone in is forearm but is set to race with a brace. A final decision on his participation will be made in Rio next week. It is possible he misses the road race or rides only part of the 256km race to ensure he is full recovered and in limited pain for the time trial where he is favourite for victory.