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BRIANÇON, France (VN) – American rider Neilson Powless was unable to match his GC rivals on stage 11 of the Tour de France, losing over 26 minutes to stage winner and new race leader Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma).
While Powless’s top-10 hopes were dashed on a brutal day of racing due to stomach cramps, the rider can still aim for success in this year’s race as he turns his attention towards breaks and potential stage wins.
Now down in 36th overall, there is little point in sticking with the GC riders if and when he can.
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Instead, the 25-year-old can change his approach and join the rest of his EF Education EasyPost teammates as they look to add to Magnus Cort’s win on stage 10.
On stage 11 to the summit of the Col du Granon, the EF Education-EasyPost rider was put on the back foot by a combination of stomach cramps and a relentless pace set by Jumbo-Visma. Even if Powless had been at the top of his game survival would have been a tall order.
“He said that he was feeling good on the Télégraphe but then he had some stomach cramps,” his sports director Tom Southam told VeloNews on the phone after the stage.
“That meant he lost the pace and, by the time he came around, it was too late. He did come around, and he was fine in the end, but obviously, the race was fully on at that moment.”
Powless came into the Tour de France with his confidence high after a top-five in the Tour de Suisse. He had never targeted the overall standings in a Tour de France but he came within a whisker of taking yellow in the first week before falling agonizingly close. He was still in the frame for a top-ten after the summit finish at La Planche des Belles Filles but the road to the Col du Granon proved too much.
“I think that for him it’s disappointing but I think that now that it’s happened he has a different opportunity in the race,” Southam said.
“It’s going to be super competitive to be in the top ten so maybe if he’d hung on today but lost it another day then it would have meant that those chances in front of him weren’t there. It could be a blessing in disguise because he’s a guy who is capable of winning races. He’s won one day in San Sebastian, so to have him available for that sort of stuff is also going to be fine for us.”
Stage 12 of the race continues with another Alpine summit finish at Alpe d’Huez. The last and only American to ever win on the climb was Andy Hampsten in 1992, exactly 30 years ago.