Powless: Maryland Cycling Classic is the perfect race to restart my season

'It took me a while to get healthy and feel fit again after the Tour de France but I feel like I’m in a really good place now,' says American rider.

Photo: Getty Images

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After taking a break from front line action Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) is ready to return for this weekend’s Maryland Cycling Classic.

Powless hasn’t raced since finishing 12th at the Tour de France in July after illness knocked him back. He picked up an infection during the final week of racing and took a well-earned break once the race reached Paris. With his batteries recharged the 25-year-old has spent the last few weeks in California while his wife performs in a ballet. A block of altitude in Truckee, near Lake Tahoe, has put the American rider back on course as he looks to finish the year with a flourish.

“It took me a while to get healthy and feel fit again after the Tour de France but I feel like I’m in a really good place now,” Powless told VeloNews on the phone.

“That came around at just the right time. Heading into the Maryland Cycling Classic we’ll have Magnus Cort with us and he’ll be our main guy for the sprint. I don’t know the course too well but I’ve seen that it has 3,000m of elevation gain but mostly in the first two thirds. I’m hoping that there might be a moment to shake things up before the finish but if not it will most likely be a finish for Magnus. We’ll try and make it a tough one-day race. I also think it’s the perfect race for me to restart my season with.”

Also read: Maryland Cycling Classic start list

Powless came through the ranks on a healthy block of US based racing that included the Tours of California, Utah and Colorado. Those races have all vanished from the calendar for one reason or another, but Maryland provides a rare opportunity for American riders to race on home soil against a mix of domestic and European talent. It’s a chance that isn’t lost on Powless, who won the Joe Martin stage race back in 2016.

“It’s going to be cool. It’s my first time racing in the US this year and it’s been sad seeing a lot of the domestic races go away. I used to love racing the Tour of California, Utah, and Colorado but now there’s not much left. I’m just happy for this opportunity and hopefully we can make it a good one. I’m happy to at least get one race on home road this year,” he told VeloNews.

It’s been a memorable summer for Powless. His Tour de France saw him come within a whisker of taking a stage and the yellow jersey in the first week, while he ended the race with his best ever GC result in a three-week race. He has yet to win a race in 2023 but he has made significant strides in a number of areas.

“The first two weeks were incredible and it was such a good opportunity to race for the yellow jersey and get so close a couple of times. That was really exciting. I was hoping for a bit more in the final week but ended up with a respiratory infection and that took a while, even after the Tour, to get over that,” he said.

“It took the wind out of my sails for the last four or five stages. I was able to hold on to a pretty decent position in GC, and I was excited for that, even though I was feeling like death. I lost time by just being a little bit off but I was able to finish 13th or 12th. I’m not sure what’s going on with that.”

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.