Wout Poels is hoping to start his 2019 season with a bang at the Tour Down Under.
Poels will lead the Team Sky charge in the first race of the campaign and the Dutchman has been working hard over the winter to be ready for 2019’s curtain raiser.
Currently training in Brisbane with teammates Dylan van Baarle and Pavel Sivakov, Wout has been enjoying acclimatising to the Australian summer.
“Normally we would arrive two days before a race but of course with the time difference, plus the fact it’s full summer over here, it made sense to come out here for two weeks before the race starts. It’s good, especially with the weather - it’s important to acclimatise. Today it was 30, 32 degrees, and it’s humid - so we’re sweating a lot!
“I’ve never done the Tour Down Under and I’ve always thought it’s an interesting race to do. I started to think about it last year, spoke to Tim [Kerrison], and I think it’s a nice goal to start the season with.”
Wout, Pavel and Dylan will travel to Adelaide on the 10th of January to meet up with the rest of the team’s Tour Down Under squad.
“You’re never too sure what to expect from the first race of the season,” explained Poels, “but I’ve been training well. The whole winter went to plan. Hopefully we can do something nice at TDU - that’s the goal. We will see.”
After the Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race Poels will head back to Europe and is likely to tackle the Volta ao Algarve and Tirreno-Adriatico, before attacking the Ardennes.
Since winning Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2016 - Team Sky’s first Monument victory - Poels has not been able to hit the Ardennes at 100%. After being forced to skip them due to a knee injury in 2017, 2018 was only a little better - Amstel Gold was his first race back after breaking his collarbone at Paris-Nice.
“I love racing the Ardennes,” continued Poels, “although it wasn’t the easiest first block back after a broken collarbone last year!
“I always have a few key goals for the season. I’d like to really do well in the Ardennes Classics - that’s important to me - but I always like to do well in all of the races I start.
“Of course I would like to get selected for the Tour again, to support the boys there, but I’ll try to be good everywhere I start.
“People like to have one clear target but I never look at it like that. New year, new season - I have to smash it everywhere!”