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Wout Poels on Winning Stage 15: “I always dreamed to win a stage at the Tour”

By Monica Buck

The 15th stage of the Tour de France, a gruelling mountainous race to Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc, bore witness to an astounding solo victory by Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious). Amidst the aggressive competition between Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), Poels emerged victorious, outpacing the GC contenders by six minutes.

A thirty-strong breakaway group set the stage for Poels’ victorious ride, with him leaving Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) behind 11km from the finish line on the penultimate climb of the Côtes des Amerands. The Dutchman’s decisive move came after a strategic breakaway involving Van Aert, Marc Soler, and Krists Neilands (Israel-Premier Tech). Despite Neilands’ unfortunate crash and Soler falling behind ahead on the penultimate climb, Poels kept his determination intact.

Poels showcased his superiority on the uphill battle, outperforming Van Aert and pushing forward alone. The remarkable effort led to the 35-year-old cyclist clinching his first Tour de France stage win.

His joy was palpable as he shared his emotions. “I always dreamed to win a stage at the Tour. Especially with what happened in the team in the last three weeks with Gino, all the emotions came. It’s just incredible. I won a Monument and now a stage in the Tour. I’m super happy,” exclaimed an ecstatic Poels.

His belief in his victory didn’t solidify until the final kilometre. Poels said, “I just had to keep fighting. I had to go full gas. It’s amazing.”

His journey to this victory wasn’t without challenges. “I got sick at altitude camp, had to skip the Dauphiné. I went to the Tour of Slovenia. Luckily it went really well and the team took me to the Tour and believed in it. My DS Roman Kreuziger was saying that ‘ah you’re going to be there into the third week’ and here we are’,” he reminisced.

Meanwhile, despite Poels’ breakaway triumph, the battle for the yellow jersey remained unaffected. Vingegaard managed to retain his slight advantage over Pogačar, with Rodríguez shedding 38 seconds but remaining in third. Adam Yates is now emerging as a substantial threat, gaining 18 seconds at the line and 1:36 on Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) to secure fourth place, now trailing the Spaniard by just 19 seconds.

Stage 15 results

  1. Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 4:40:45
  2. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) + 2:08
  3. Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies) + 3:00
  4. Lawson Craddock (Team Jayco-AlUla) + 3:10
  5. Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) + 3:14
  6. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) + 3:14
  7. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) + 3:32
  8. Mattias Skjelmose (Lidl-Trek) + 3:43
  9. Simon Guglielmi (Arkéa-Samsic) + 3:59
  10. Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) + 4:20

GC after stage 15

  1. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) 62:34:17
  2. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) + 10
  3. Carlos Rodriguez (INEOS Grenadiers) + 5:21
  4. Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) + 5:40
  5. Jai Hindley (BORA-hansgrohe) + 6:38
  6. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) + 9:16
  7. Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) + 10:11
  8. Simon Yates (Team Jayco-AlUla) + 10:48
  9. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) + 14:07
  10. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) + 14:18