The Dutchman came home 19th on the stage, one minute and 36 seconds back on stage winner Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) but just 40 seconds off new race leader Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).
However, the day was soured for Poels and Team INEOS after Chris Froome crashed in the recon of the stage, forcing him out of the race.
Poels, who was with Froome when the accident happened, said of his friend: “It’s never nice to see a teammate go down, particularly when he’s such a close friend. I hope he can recover quickly. If anyone can Froomey can.”
Now Poels will hope to regroup and attack the mountain stages to come. Assessing his new situation, he said: “40 seconds isn’t too bad with the stages that are coming up. I felt good on the short climbs of stage two and again on the climb midway through the TT today.
“We’ve come off the back of a really good training block in Tenerife so I should be good now and up there to fight for a good position.
“It’s really sad for Froomey but I have to switch on again now and make the best of a tough situation.”