By Jonny Long
Every year the brutality of the Tour de France ensures there is one rider who suffers painful injuries early on in the race yet battles through to the end, soldiering on over HC climbs with physical ailments that would see mere mortals like you or I bedridden for weeks.
This year the unofficial 'hardman of the Tour' award seems to be heading the way of Wout Poels, the Bahrain-McLaren rider suffering a broken rib and injured lung after coming down on the slippery opening stage in Nice.
The very next day Poels refused to be downbeat, praising the fact the sun was shining, mirroring his optimism for the race ahead.
Two weeks later, the Dutchman sits in 134th place overall, four hours down on Primož Roglič, but is on the mend and "getting used" to riding with his aches.
"Every day it gets a little bit better," Poels told Cycling Weekly, "so I'm quite happy with that. Yesterday was already way better but I still feel it, although you do get a little bit used to it after a while, and it's healing of course."
Looking to take his mind off the pain, we turn to one of his preferred conversation topics. Wout Poels' must be the only person whose face lights up at the mention of Brexit.
Owain Doull revealed that during Poels' Ineos days he was "obsessed" with watching the Brexit countdown on Sky News, the Dutchman now slightly dismayed that the French Grand Tour has gotten in the way of keeping up to date with Britain's withdrawal from the European Union.
"Ah yes! I haven't been following it so much recently, during the Tour de France, we don't have Sky News on all the time, but I'm still following as best I can."
Riding the Tour de France with your injuries is a bit less complicated than Brexit?
"Now with all the coronavirus, it hasn't made things easier for Boris."
Even during a global pandemic, Wout Poels is here to make you feel that little bit better.
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races. I'm 6'0", 26 years old, have a strong hairline and have an adequate amount of savings for someone my age. I'm very single at the minute so if you know anyone, hit me up.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab, reporting about students evacuating their bowels on nightclub dancefloors and consecrating their love on lecture hall floors. I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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