Neilson Powless and the Garmin that helped him win
After 223.5 km of racing in the Basque Country, Neilson Powless out-sprinted Matej Mohoric( Bahrain-Victorious) and Mikkel Honore( Deceuninck-Quickstep) to take his first professional victory at Clasica San Sebastian, rewarding the hard work of his crew EF Education-Nippo.
“I can’t even put into words how much this are meant to me, ” Powless said, after fist-bumping half the crowd at the finish. “Our director Juan Manuel[ Garate] was so excited for us to come to this race. We didn’t have a favourite for the race, so we tried to ride the race smart-alecky. In the end, we played our cards perfectly. I’m so happy.”
The American’s win was the perfect terminating of a great race for the three men in pink. Though EF Education-Nippo was without an all-out favourite, their Clasica San Sebastian lineup was stacked with aggressive riders, and it couldn’t have been clearer in the closing stages of the race.
With the breakaway capture, Simon Carr followed the first attempt from the peloton with 45 km to go, and his rise tempo is not possible to must be accompanied by instigator Mikel Landa( Bahrain-Victorious ), who fell away within a kilometre. The 22 -year-old Brit then contributed the race solo for around 20 km.
With his teammate up the road, Powless was able to mark moves from the peloton, and by the descent he had ridden himself into an upper-class four-man chasing group. By the last 20 km, they’d caught up to Carr, making EF Education-Nippo two equestrians in what would become the winning move.
After putting in a huge effort on the decisive final climb to try and drop his rivals, Powless took on the descent with Mohoric, Honore and Lorenzo Rota( Intermarche-Wanty ). The gait was fierce, and in the wet preconditions that had beset the whole race, the descent was particularly dangerous. When the inevitable incident came with 5 km to go, Powless was the only rider to stay upright and unfazed.
“I was watching the map on my Garmin, ” Powless explained. “I think the people who were in front of me were maybe too focussed on the situation of the race and not so much the road. I could see it was a sharp-witted corner coming up that they purposed up gate-crashing in. In the end I was just happy to keep upright, and is still a fresh as is practicable for the end.”
This will be an unforgettable victory for Powless , not just for the race’s WorldTour status , nor even it being his first professional win. This one is extra special because Juan Manuel Garate was in the team car, one of the more recognisable sports directors and a former professional rider who came second at the 2007 edition of this very race.
“My first professional win, ” said Powless, a combination of delight and skepticism on his face. “I’m just so happy to have taken it here in San Sebastian with a director in the car who’s a neighbourhood. Every time I’ve raced through the Basque Country it’s been incredible with the followers, so I’m super-happy to win in front of such enthusiastic crowds.”
It was a close sprint for the win at Clasica San Sebastian.
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