Poels nabs Sky’s first monument win at Liege

Wout Poels took his fifth victory of 2016 ahead of Michael Albasini and Rui Costa. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Wout Poels triumphed in a four-man sprint at Liège-Bastogne-Liège Sunday to deliver Team Sky’s first ever monument victory.

After nearly 250 kilometers in wintry conditions that forced organizers to make alterations to the route, the 28-year-old Dutchman joined a small escape on the penultimate climb of the race. Michael Albasini (Orica – GreenEdge) led the initial move, and Samuel Sánchez (BMC Racing) and Rui Costa (Lampre – Merida) jumped clear as well to make for a quartet of breakers inside the final three kilometers.

Several pre-race favorites, among them defending champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), were tucked into the peloton behind — but the pack did not mount much of a concerted chase effort. The escapees held out all the way to the finish line, and Poels was the strongest in the closing meters of the race, besting Albasini in the sprint with Costa in third.

Poels, who was hugged by his Sky boss Dave Brailsford after the race, became only the fourth Dutchman to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège, though for Poels it’s already the fifth victory on the year.

“It’s really nice, I’m really happy. I honestly can’t believe that I won today, so I’m really happy,” Poels told Belgian TV after his win.

“The weather was even snowing, it was a really hard day.

“I like the last climb, we got away there. It was really hard conditions.

“I didn’t feel super any more but everybody was really tired.”

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