Vuelta a Espana

Wout Poels gets his shot at grand tour leadership with Ineos

With Ineos's big names sitting on the sidelines, the team is sending a mix of young and old to the Vuelta

Wout Poels, the loyal lieutanent to Chris Froome, will get his shot at leadership at the Vuelta a España. The climbing Dutchman will share leadership duties with emerging GC rider Tao Geoghegan Hart at Team Ineos for the season’s final grand tour.

With Froome, Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal all bypassing the Vuelta for a variety of reasons, all eyes were on Ineos and who would make their eight-rider roster. Iván Sosa and Pavel Sivakov, recent winners at tours in Burgos and Poland, respectively, also miss the Spanish grand tour for Ineos.

That opened the door for Poels, 31, to get his opportunity to ride as a GC leader. The lean climber is often the final rider at the front of the GC group helping Froome and Thomas. Now the team hopes he can be their man for the GC in the Vuelta.

“I believe we have a really talented blend of youth and experience in this team,” said Ineos sport director Nicolas Portal. “The opportunity for Tao to learn from Wout as they lead our team is a special one and we have faith that both of them can leave their mark on this Vuelta.”

A Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner, Poels is a veteran of 13 grand tours, with sixth overall at the 2017 Vuelta as his best personal result. Typically he’s been at the service of others, but can win when he gets the freedom, like he did with a stage victory at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June.

Geoghegan Hart, 24, made his grand tour debut last year at the Vuelta, and was riding well during the Giro d’Italia in May before crashing out. He’s also hoping to make a run at the top-10.

Other starters include Owain Doull, Kenny Elissonde, Sebastian Henao, Vasil Kiryienka, Salvatore Puccio and Ian Stannard.