Neilson Powless doesn’t run like a Tour de France rookie.
In the first week alone, Powless had two winning breakaways, helped Rigoberto Urán avoid losses in crosswinds, attacked the Col d’Eze in the opening weekend and posted two top -5 in stages. What a start.
“Considering how the first week went, I would say I’m really happy with my performance,” said Powless. VeloNews. “That’s the whole experience of the bank. Every time you run, you learn something. I am confident that I will be able to come back and win a stage in the Tour de France.
Powless, 24, made his Tour debut with the highly competitive EF Pro Cycling team. With Urán, Sergio Higuita and Dani Martínez as leaders in Nice, Powless entered the Tour with little responsibility other than doing what he can to protect the team managers.
Powless clearly has more ambitions than just being a bottle carrier on his first Tour.
“None of those breaks are easy to take and everyone knew again today that it could go to the finish, so he did really well there,” said the sporting director of EF Tom Southam. “Neilson is super enthusiastic; this is his first tour. It was his first real mountain stage that he did, going through the crowd, you could see him at the top of the Peyresourde.
Powless could still have a few chances before the end of the Tour. As Monday’s rest day dawned, the 24-year-old was flying high.
“I don’t feel like I’m on the back foot yet,” said Powless. “I was having chills. It was amazing. The pain just goes away when you walk through a crowd like this.
Powless is one of the three American pilots on this Tour. His teammate Tejay van Garderen saves his legs to help in the Alps, while Sepp Kuss on his rival Jumbo-Visma has also done a lot of work for his captains.
Powless seizes the opportunities available to him and makes a few of them.
“It’s amazing to be able to really be part of the race,” he said. ” It’s incredible. If my role was to sit in the group and support Rigo [Urán] and do my best for that, I would be happy, and that will be my role soon enough. When I have the opportunity to be in the break, it’s an incredible experience, to really take advantage of this rare opportunity to run the Tour de France.
Powless, who has already been recruited as a potential GC captain in the future, takes advantage of the lessons at every opportunity.