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VILLARS, Switzerland (VN) – Time is on Neilson Powless’ side when it comes to potentially targeting grand tours, with his EF Education-EasyPost director Charly Wegelius keen to see the 25-year-old develop at the right pace.
Powless capped a consistent week of racing with a highly creditable 14th overall at the Tour de Romandie on Sunday. He faded in the final time trial to Villars, but after an illness hit spring the signs are good for the American, who also cracked the top-10 in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
“He had his hiccups at the start of the season. At Paris-Nice he got sick and after Catalunya he got sick again,” Wegelius told VeloNews.
“We didn’t race him in Amstel because we wanted to give him the space that he needed in order to get ready. I wouldn’t say that he’s there yet, and you almost want a couple more races now but we’re going to take a break and focus on the Tour now. In that sense it’s a shame, but he’s shown his talent.”
- Powless lifts crash-crunched EF Team with top-10 at Liège-Bastogne-Liège
- Gallery: Neilson Powless races Romandie TT with Prologo CPC grip on his bars
EF Education-EasyPost has done a successful job in developing Hugh Carthy into a grand tour rider and there is hope in the American camp that Powless can eventually move into a similar role. He has raced the Tour de France twice and concentrated on infiltrating breaks but his natural climbing ability and youth certainly mark him as a rider to watch over the next few years.
He has obvious pedigree as a one-day race and Wegelius is keen to develop Powless along that path for the time being.
“I think the GC is a bit early for him,” Wegelius added.
“That’s a very risky and boring project. You sit there and you hide, and you hide, and you hide, and then you can still fall off. You can break a fingernail and it’s all over.
“Neilson, though, has shown in the few Tours that he’s done that once he gets out in front he has a lot to give. We saw that in San Sebastian last year, and I’d like to see him continue that style of racing as far as three-week races are concerned. We want to see him get some wins under his belt and get out there. There’s time for that later.”