All eyes have been on Chris Froome this week at Spain’s Ruta del Sol, but his Sky teammate Wout Poels stole the spotlight Thursday, winning stage 2 and taking the overall lead.
Astana’s Luis Leon Sanchez was second, and Lotto-Soudal’s Tim Wellens finished third on the uphill finish on Alto de las Allandas.
Diego Rubio (Burgos-BH) was the last survivor from a breakaway trio that rode most of the 140-kilometer day off the front. The Spaniard pressed on as the lead dwindled to about one minute with five kilometers — and a tough climb to 1,000 meters above sea level — remaining.
From the peloton, Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang made the first acceleration on the final climb.
Movistar’s Mikel Landa responded and was followed by Wellens.
Sensing the danger, Poels took off and joined lead trio with about two kilometers to go. Following this flurry of initial moves, Rubio was caught.
Ever the aggressor, Wellens made a bid for glory with about 1,500 meters remaining in the climb. The Belgian got a promising gap, but there was too far to ride. Poels countered, caught Wellens and won the day by two seconds.
Poels will ride into Friday’s stage 3 with the leader’s jersey and a slim lead. The Dutchman should be able to defend his GC position as the 165.1km run to Herrera is very flat and favors a bunch finish.
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