The Dutchman was unfortunate to sustain a broken wheel on the day’s final climb, the Cote de Charbonnieres, as attacks fired up ahead with just 26 kilometres remaining.
Following a wheel change from teammate David Lopez, Poels was paced back to the head of the group by his Team Sky colleagues in a gutsy chase for around 20 kilometres. That ensured he was able to finish alongside Sergio Henao and David de la Cruz in a reduced peloton.
Henao was well positioned and was able to power his way into a group of lead contenders on the first significant climb of this year’s race. As the GC players watched one another, fresh attacks saw three riders push clear to contest the stage victory in Chatel-Guyon.
Jonathan Hivert (Direct Energie) won the three-up sprint, but it was Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) who took the runner-up spot, and crucially carved out 38 seconds on the chasing pack as he moved into yellow.
Henao and Poels now sit 43 seconds behind the Spaniard heading into Wednesday’s time trial.