A defiant Team Sky came out, guns blazing, in the Paris-Nice individual time trial from La Fouillouse to Saint Etienne, swatting away any suggestions of battered morale, as the storm over Monday’s DCMS report continues.
In what was perhaps the best time trial performance of his career, Chris Froome’s climbing lieutenant, Wout Poels, took his first WorldTour time trial stage win to move to within 15 seconds of the overall lead with teammate and defending champion Sergio Henao also turning in a powerful performance.
Afterwards, a smiling Poels shrugged off questions about ethics, team morale and the pressure of performing in the current climate. The 30-year-old seemed unconcerned by the furore in Britain over the DCMS report into doping in sport which accused Team Sky of unethical behaviour.
“I am just focused on my training and racing,” Poels said. “Of course, I support Dave and the team. I hope everything is resolved quickly and we move on.”
Poels also made it clear that, in the event of the Froome salbutamol case being decided before the Giro and leading to a ban for the four-time Tour champion, he’d be ready to assume leadership duties. “I’m ready to lead the team,” Poels said. “We all want to solve this as quickly as possible, especially Chris. But I hope we start the Giro together.”
Overnight race leader Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) ceded the best part of half a minute to stage winner Poels, but with Henao also now in contention, it is Team Sky who, with David de la Cruz also a little more than half a minute down, will have the best hand to play, as the race heads towards the climbs of Provence and the Cote d’Azur.
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