This year Neilson Powless opens his fifth season with EF Education-EasyPost in Europe, but it won’t be at Sunday’s Grand Prix La Marseillaise. He has his eye on one-day races again for 2024, this time using his powerful efforts focused on a Belgian race, or two, with cobbles.
He’s a 27-year-old with a career still on the rise. Last year he took the victory in France at GP La Marseillaise, then secured the GC title at Etoile de Bessèges before a third overall at Tour des Alpes and sixth in Paris-Nice. Across six of the big spring one-day races, he took third at Dwars door Vlaanderen and top 10s at Milan-San Remo and Tour of Flanders.
“A Monument win would probably be the biggest goal that I have right now. I feel it is attainable, a realistic goal that I have for myself. That’s not easy by any means, it’s very, very, very difficult to win one,” Powless admitted to Cyclingnews with a nervous laugh.
Since his first pro victory in the Clásica San Sebastián in 2021, Powless has surged on punchy, rolling terrain. In 2022 at the Tour de France, he twice finished fourth on stages, including atop L’Alpe d’Huez. But it was on stage 5 across the cobbles to Wallers-Arenberg that Powless could taste yellow, missing out on taking the leader’s jersey by one second. At the World Championships, he’s been close to glory as well, last year finishing 11th in Glasgow on a course suiting his talents but missed a late winning move by Mathieu van der Poel.
“I’ve been sort of at the front of big one-day races now for about two years, kicking off when I had a win at San Sebastián. That’s what gave me the confidence of chasing after those results a little bit more. Ever since then, you know, I haven’t been able to race at the front of every one-day race I’ve done, but I would say the majority of the big ones that I’ve competed in, I’ve been able to really be a part of the race in the finals. So that’s been a fun goal to chase after and that’s definitely going to be my focus these next few years.”
His 2023 season wound down after a second place at Maryland Cycling Classic, but his life continued to ramp up. He became a father, new daughter Charlotte arriving in the early fall for he and his wife Frances. They also bought a townhome near Houston, Texas and then he accepted another delivery, this one a four-year extension with the US-based EF Education WorldTour team.
“My wife grew up in Texas. We decided once we found out Frances was pregnant, we…