Wout Poels wins Vuelta a Andalucia
On the conclusive day of the Vuelta a Andalucia, Team Bahrain Victorious successfully defended the yellow leader’s jersey of Wout Poels. The Dutchman covered all attacks on the steep final kilometer and got to celebrate what the second GC win in a stage race of his pro cycling career.
With an impressive team effort and four riders in a 15-rider breakaway, Team Bahrain Victorious had laid the foundation for the GC win at the Ruta del Sol in stage 4. With his stage win Wout Poels had also taken over the yellow leader's jersey of the Vuelta a Andalucia before the conclusive stage. But his advantage over his closest rival Miguel Angel Lopez stood at a scant 10 seconds. So the objective for the riders in red and black for this conclusive stage was clear: the leader's jersey had to be defended. At a distance of 146.4km that final stage was not overly long, but it did not lack in climbs of the 2nd and 3rd category and the corresponding amount of climbing. The last climb up to Chiclana de Segura promised to be a worthy stage to duke it out all the way to the finish line.
As soon as the checkered flag had been waved in the departing town of Huesa, the teams that had missed out on yesterday's large breakaway were the most active and took charge of things. A 19-rider lead group formed early on but the peloton would not even grant it a gap of one minute and brought it back before the halfway point of the stage. From there, another group with 17 riders formed, and since these did not pose a threat in the overall standings, the peloton paced by Team Bahrain Victorious was happy to grant them some more room. The full focus was on getting the necessary food in and save as much energy as possible for that final ascent. Mikel Landa, Edoardo Zambanini and Damiano Caruso all worked hard to get Wout Poels and Jack Haig safely to the foot of the final ascent.
As expected, Team Astana took charge of things with 3 kilometers to go, upping the pace and thus preparing an attack for Lopez. But Wout Poels knew what to expect and latched onto Lopez' wheel for a while just to accelerate away in chase of another attack, this time from Rodriguez. He successfully did so and crossed the finish line ahead of his main GC rivals. Never mind that stage winner Lennard Kämna had finished one and a half minutes earlier, the overall win for Poels at the Vuelta a Andalucia was in the books. the Dutchman also finished in 2nd in the points classification, as did Team Bahrain Victorious in the team's classification. Thus the Ruta del Sol can be considered a full success. As for the first stage of the UAE Tour that ended with a bunch sprint, all riders of Team Bahrain Victorious managed to steer clear of any crashes.
68TH VUELTA A ANDALUCIA RUTA CICLISTA DEL SOL, FINAL OVERALL STANDINGS:
1. Wout Poels, NED/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 20:51.27 hours
2. Cristian Rodriguez, ESP, + 0.14
3. Miguel Angel Lopez, COL, + 0.15
1. Alessandro Covi, ITA, 59 points
2. Wout Poels, NED/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, 41 points
3. Magnus Sheffield, USA, 39 points
1. Astana Qazaqstan Team, KAZ, in 62:35.11 hours
2. TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, BAH, + 1.35
3. Ineos Grenadiers, GBR, 13.37
Photos: bettiniphoto - sprintcyclingagency.com