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Neilson Powless propels the world’s best men to the United States in two decades

By on September 26, 2021 0

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LEUVEN, Belgium (VN) – Neilson Powless soared to the US elite men’s world championship best result in a decade with a fifth place finish on Sunday in a brutal race.

The EF Education-Nippo rider joined a first group with Remco Evenepoel (Belgium), then grabbed the wheels in the last hour of the race during the grueling six-hour, 270-kilometer race.

History was here to become perhaps the first American elite man to win the Rainbow Stripes since 1993.

After Julian Alaphilippe took the solo victory, Powless was playing for the medals in a four-man sprint.

“I played my cards to the best of my ability,” he said. VeloNews at the line. “I’m super happy, I was happy to be there. I just didn’t have that punch at the end, but I knew it before the sprint.

The medals were on the line

Powless lit up the final on Sunday with a series of dazzling accelerations that shattered the already fractured leading group.

Future silver medalist Dylan van Baarle (Netherlands) and bronze medalist Michael Valgren (Denmark), as well as Jasper Stuyven (Belgium) joined him in a quartet of pursuers behind the Frenchman.

“I am very happy with the way I rode today,” said Powless. “There was no chance [when Alaphilippe went]. In the end, we wanted to bring him back, but we all knew how strong he was and it was difficult to stay consistent throughout the race.

Alaphilippe left the peloton with two laps to go on the last circuit of Louvain. Behind him, the leading selection merged as Powless accelerated to bring the others out.

With the Dutch, Belgians and Danes also present, no one was leading a chase from behind.

However, Powless had a gap on the final climb and it looked like he could be out of frame with 5 km to go. Powless, who won the Clásica San Sebastián in July, fought back to join the medalist squad.

Powless led the pack, but just didn’t have the power to stand on the podium.

Hats to Alaphillipe and I’m just happy with my race, ”he said.

The best American male result since 2011

Powless received a hug from teammate Lawson Craddock, who was bullish on the US men’s team entering the world championships.

“I really believe the United States can have another rainbow jersey in the next five years,” Craddock said ahead of the world championships. “I think this year in Flanders is the start of this process.”

The US squad rode well on Sunday, and Brandon McNulty snuck up in an early move featuring Evenepoel and a few other big guns. The Italians buried their team to bring them back, and then Powless was quick to follow the counterattacks to join the final winning shots.

Fifth place is the best since Tyler Farrar was 10th in 2011.

The last American winner in the men’s race was Lance Armstrong in 1993. Despite his doping violations that led to his 1999 results being disqualified, including seven Tour de France victories, his 1993 title is still officially on the books.

In fact, Armstrong’s fourth place finish in 1998 remains the best American men’s round-the-world tour since winning.

Powless’s fifth is only the seventh top-10 since 1993 in the elite men’s road race.

“I’m really happy with this,” said Powless. “I just hope we can keep going.”

Powless crosses a bend at the top of the Louvain circuit. (Photo: Casey B. Gibson)

Top 10 American runners since the last world victory

1994 – 7th Lance Armstrong

1998 – 4th Lance Armstrong

1999 – 5th Chann McRae

2000 – 8th Chann McRae

2004 – 8th Chris Horner

2011 – 10th Tyler Farrar

2021 – 5th Neilson Powless

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