A guide to the Tour de France
24th July 2016
Wout Poels, who has been Team Sky's star domestique on the 2016 Tour de France, has ambitions to be team leader on a Grand Tour.
Dutch TV programme NOS Sport de Avond Etappe interviewed Dave Brailsford and (separately) Wout Poels after Stage 20 to Morzine.
Brailsford said, 'I think he is already [a team leader]. Let's not forget, he's won stage races. We were quite excited for his performance in Tirreno-Adriatico this season, until we had the weather that took out a mountain stage, if you remember, which was unfortunate. But he continues to progress as a GC rider, and I know he wants to try and lead a Grand Tour team, and so it's a question of progressing for him. It's very possible. We'll always support the rider that we think is the strongest. We don't do it by name, we do it by performance, and if he continues to develop, and shows that he can retain that consistency over 3 weeks, then for sure, I don't see why he wouldn't get the opportunity.'
Reporter Kees Jongkind asked Wout Poels what the team had eaten after Stage 20: 'Hamburgers. It was really delicious. It's nice to eat something unhealthy for once, instead of pasta, rice, and chicken.'
Commenting on Team Sky's race, Poels said, 'It was super, especially today, which was a hard stage, with the rain. Everyone was a little bit nervous after the fall yesterday from Chris. So it was great to ride the stage, and all come safely over the finish line.'
Asked about his role and his performance, Poels replied, 'I'm aware of what I've done, and it was good to be there by Chris at the key moments, especially yesterday of course. The fall was a crucial moment, but luckily Chris's injuries weren't too bad, and it was a time to support each other, and for everyone to stay with Chris to the finish. I was happy with the gesture of thanks from him at the line.'
Jongkind pointed out that Poels had ridden fantastically well on the climbs, and that he had ambitions to lead the team. What is his goal? 'My goal is really to be team leader on a Grand Tour - the Giro, Tour, or Vuelta - but there are also other races like Bastogne-Liège, and other shorter stage races, and I'm likely to get my chance there, but I do have an ambition to get an opportunity on a Grand Tour.'
That will be decided over the winter, Jongkind said, from what he understood from speaking to Servais Knaven, and the Giro is a serious option. 'Yes, that's looking good, and we'll reflect on it over the winter, and see what I want, and what the team wants, and I could perhaps do it in combination with the Tour, because I'd like to ride the Tour with Chris. So, yes, in the winter, we'll decide on the programme.'
Jongkind asked, did you have a defined role? The mountain stages were for you, and on the flatter stages, you could save your energy. But if you were team leader, that wouldn't be possible. 'Yes, it would be very different. I mean, I was in good form for the last week and a half, and in the first week and a half, I could take it easier. Then as team leader, you have to be present every day, and of course that's a whole other mission.'
On the Olympics, Poels said that he expects to rest a bit in the next two weeks, then be in good form for Rio. Jongkind said that Brailsford had named Poels as one of the favourites for the Olympic title. 'I think if I have the self-confidence, and go for it, then it's possible.' Against Chris Froome, pointed out Jongkind. 'Against Chris, yes,' replied Poels, laughing. 'It should be easy, because I know what his weak points are.' And what are they? 'Wet descents,' joked Poels.
The 2016 Tour de France begins at Mont St Michel, in the Manche département of France. It tackles the Pyrenees before the Alps, and as always there's a final processional stage to Paris.
Stage 21 is the traditional final stage of the Tour de France, with the GC already settled, and a prestigious stage win on the Champs-Elysées at stake. The riders start north of Paris in Chantilly, and wend their way to the outskirts of the city, before crossing the Seine to the Bois de Boulogne, then entering Paris via the Porte Maillot. They pass the Arc de Triomphe, and descend via place de l'Alma and place Concorde to the Louvre. Here, they begin 8 complete tours of the finishing circuit, up the Champs-Elysées, and back down to the Louvre via place de l'Alma. The ninth time over the line (part way up the Champs-Elysées) is the important one, which will determine the stage winner. Read about Stage 21, Tour de France 2016.
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