Neilson Powless to decide by Sunday on world championships due to UCI points pinch

EF Education-EasyPost brings hitters to Québec and Montréal in quest for UCI points.

Photo: Getty Images

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QUEBEC, Canada (VN) — Neilson Powless will decide Sunday if he will make the trek down to Australia to race the 2022 UCI road world championships.

Why? A long season coupled with a down-to-the-wire relegation battle for EF Education-EasyPost are deciding factors of Powless, who electrified the worlds last year in Leuven with fifth.

“I will make the decision Sunday,” Powless said. “We’ll see how these races go. It’s hard for me to make the choice. I don’t think EF will tell me I cannot go, but they’re asking me to think about everything in the balance.”

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Like several teams at the lower half of the UCI points rankings, EF Education-EasyPost is chasing points to assure a spot in the WorldTour league when the next round of licenses are awarded for 2023.

Some of those teams facing possible relegation are leaning on their riders to skip the world championship later this month in Australia, and instead race in Europe where a handful of late-season races in Belgium, France, and Italy could decide the WorldTour fate of several franchises.

The impact is reaching across the peloton just weeks ahead of the 2022 road worlds.

The Spanish federation, for example, is having a hard time filling out its world’s roster because teams such as Cofidis, Movistar, and other teams are not releasing some of their top riders due to the ever more critical UCI points situation.

American rider Matteo Jorgenson is also being told by his Movistar Team that his services are needed for the good of the team.

Also read: Spanish federation having trouble filling worlds roster

Though the worlds does award UCI points that could help out the pro teams, the combination of travel and the attritional nature of racing at the worlds, when many riders pull out after doing their pulls, makes it more efficient and potentially decisive for riders to target points-rich races in Europe.

If Powless doesn’t go, there are several races that favor him that he could start and potentially earn points even before worlds is contested on September 25.

“It’s up to me at the end of the day,” Powless said Wednesday. “It’s a tough decision to make. It’s pretty long travel, and there are a lot of other races I could be doing at the same time.”

Powless, who earned a nice bundle of UCI points for his team when he kicked to third at the Maryland Cycling Classic last weekend, said the points situation is certainly a factor when he considers his worlds plans.

“That’s definitely on my mind, and it’s quite a long way to go,” Powless said. “It is a risk going all the way down there, plus I am finishing my season in Japan [on October 10 at the Japan Cup], so it’s a lot of travel.”

‘We have a really strong team’ for Québec and Montréal

Neilson Powless will be one of the favorites this week in Canada. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

The quandary comes a year after Powless’s spectacular ride at the 2021 road worlds in Leuven.

Powless rode into the decisive winning move, kicking to the best U.S. worlds result with fifth since Chann McRae was fifth in 1999.

Last week, Brandon McNulty also told VeloNews that he was opting out of the worlds, citing fatigue and a minor cold that he came down with at the Vuelta a España. Other selected riders include Kyle Murphy, Lawson Craddock, and Magnus Sheffield for the five-rider elite men’s squad.

Regardless of what he decides, Powless is expecting the team to be in the mix at this weekend’s WorldTour races, with Friday’s race at Québec and Sunday in Montréal.

Other strong EF riders include Ruben Guerreiro, Magnus Cort, Alberto Bettiol, Simon Carr, and Jens Keukeleire.

“We have a really strong team here,” Powless said. “Hopefully one of us will be up there for the wins. These courses are good for a lot of guys on our team.”

With a big stack of WorldTour points on the line this week, teams across the peloton will be racing for more than just the trophy.

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