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Wout Poels Redefines Cycling Career: Liège-Bastogne-Liège’s Impact on Monument Journey

One of the few previous champions participating in this year’s event on Sunday, the Bahrain Victorious cyclist is approaching the final Classic of the spring with a fresh strategy. Drawing inspiration from his teammate Santiago Buitrago, who secured a podium finish in 2023, the Dutch rider engaged in a five-day preparation for Liège-Bastogne-Liège at the Tour of the Alps. This preparation sets the stage for a competitive showdown against renowned riders such as Tom Pidcock from UAE Team Emirates, Mathieu van der Poel from Alpecin-Deceuninck, and others.

At 36 years old, Poels, now considered a veteran in the cycling realm, will embark on his 11th appearance at La Doyenne this Sunday. It has been eight years since his significant victory in a reduced-group sprint while representing Team Sky, outpacing Michael Albasini and Rui Costa. Traditionally, he tackled the Ardennes races as a series, but inspired by his Colombian teammate’s success in 2023 after competing in South Tyrol and Trentino, Poels decided to adopt a similar approach.

Although he hasn’t achieved a top 10 placement at Liège-Bastogne-Liège since 2019, Poels remains optimistic about changing that narrative this Sunday. Following the conclusion of the Tour of the Alps on Friday, he swiftly made his way from Italy to Belgium, aiming for a successful performance. Reflecting on his preparations, Poels expressed hope for a positive outcome, drawing parallels to the effective strategy employed by Buitrago last year.

Poels reminisced, “It’s always nice to go back, Liège-Bastogne-Liège changed my cycling life of course.” His notable Monument victory occurred during his tenure as a key support rider at Team Sky, aiding Chris Froome in securing four Tour de France titles. Despite the formidable competition posed by contemporary cycling stars, Poels is well-acquainted with the demands of enduring grueling long-distance races.

Looking ahead, Poels is focused on the upcoming challenges, including his participation in the Giro d’Italia where he aims to claim a stage victory. Transitioning from a domestique role at Team Sky to pursuing personal ambitions at Bahrain-Victorious in 2019, Poels experienced a transformation in his career trajectory. His recent successes include remarkable breakaway wins at the Tour de France and Vuelta a España in 2023, marking a significant shift in his cycling journey.

As he continues to strive for excellence, Poels remains determined to add a Giro stage win to his list of accomplishments, aligning with his pursuit of victories across all three Grand Tours.