Neilson Powless sets the tone for 2023 with solo stunner at GP La Marseillaise

US sensation attacks 13km from the line to score opening victory of the season in tough French calendar-opener.

Photo: Getty Images

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Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) picked up where he left off last year with victory in Sunday’s GP La Marseillaise.

The U.S. sensation struck out solo with 13km to go in the tough hilly classic to deliver his first victory for the season and carry the momentum from his end-of-year win in Japan last summer.

Valentin Ferron (TotalEnergies) and Brent van Moer (Lotto-Dstny) led home the chase, more than one minute back.

The victory is the third of Powless’ pro career and marks an early confidence-booster for the 26-year-old after he last year vowed to more regularly convert chances into results in 2023.

Powless impressed all summer last year but struggled to find the winning moves until he got his one win of the season at the 2022-closing Japan Cup. The sixth-year WorldTour pro also came to within 13-seconds of wearing yellow at the Tour de France.

“There’s so much satisfaction and inspiration for the future. I’m just so happy to have finally put the ball in the goal,” Powless said at the finish of what was his third race in 2023.

“I’ve been trying so many times this year and physically I felt capable of so many results, but in bike racing, you have to make sure everything goes perfectly and comes together on the right day. I’m just so happy it finally came together for me today.”

The French season-opener around Marseille typically comes down to the sprinters versus the climbers and breakaway artists, and Sunday proved the latter.

Powless escaped with a bunch of 1o others in the last hour of racing, and the group worked together to hold off the chasing peloton in the downward-tilting final.

Powless was active all through the final and looked one of the most threatening in the escape.

He made his crucial move just outside of 13km to go and dangled in the eyeline of the chase group through the fast, wide tarmac into Marseille.

The Florida-born Powless held his gap at just 20-30 seconds through the last 10km but the pursuit fell flat, leaving the U.S. rider to roar with triumph as he filled the frame in the finish photo with a 1:15 advantage.

The result caps a standout opening to the season for EF Education-EasyPost after Marijn van den Berg won in Mallorca and Mikkel Honoré took the KoM jersey at Tour Down Under.

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