Tour de France 2020

Active Pass roundtdable: Will Neilson Powless be allowed to break away again?

In today's Active Pass roundtable, we field your questions about Neilson Powless, Wout van Aert, and the UCI's ruling on Julian Alaphilippe.

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You have questions about the 2020 Tour de France, and we have answers and educated opinions. Our veteran reporters, Andrew Hood and James Startt, are fielding your biggest inquiries each day in this Active Pass roundtable column. Today, we have inquiries about the young Americans Sepp Kuss and Neilson Powless in the race, and also Wout van Aert’s potential as a green jersey contender.

OK, let’s get to your questions!

Sepp Kuss is not the only promising American climber worth discussing. Will Neilson Powless be allowed to go for another stage?

Andrew Hood @eurohoody: Yes, very likely — EF Pro Cycling will shift fully into stage-hunting mode if/when Urán drops back. Neilson POW-less was impressive to ride into the break and finish strongly on stage 6. That performance will only give him more confidence for this Tour and the future. Tejay van Garderen will get his chance, too. Remember, he was second at Alpe d’Huez a few years ago.

James Startt: It is great to see Neilson Powless here at the Tour. He definitely made a good career move coming to EF and is using this Tour to show that he has taken his bike racing to another level. Will he be allowed to go for another stage? It depends on how the team makes it through the Pyrénées. They came here with three leaders in Rigoberto Urán, Dani Martínez, and Sergio Higuita. But Martínez is already four minutes down. If they come out of the Pyrénees with one of their leader fighting for the lead, or at least the podium, then the team will likely focus on that, but if they are all out of the GC race, then it is going to be one heck of a team for stage wins in the final week. And Powless will have his chance like the others. He proved on stage six that he can go the distance.

Fred Dreier @freddreier: It’s so awesome to see Neilson Powless get opportunities like that in his debut Tour de France. As I wrote yesterday, we’ve had our eyes on Neilson since 2016 when he lit up the Amgen Tour of California. We’ve known for a long time that he’s capable of competing on the international level. Remember, when he won a stage of the Tour de l’Avenir he dropped Pavel Sivakov, David Gaudu, and a rider named Egan Bernal in the process. My hope is that EF Pro Cycling allows Powless to attack into multiple breakaways at this Tour de France and get all of the experience he can get. He’s a star in the making, so giving him opportunities is key.

Would Wout van Aert win the Green Jersey if he was on a team dedicated entirely to him?

What can’t Wout van Aert do? Photo: Christophe Petit-Tesson – Pool/Getty Images

Andy: Very likely. He has a similar profile and strength as Peter Sagan, and is clearly one of the strongest in the entire race. After winning Wednesday and Friday, he is firmly back to helping mode, but hinted he will try to win in Paris.

James Startt: Absolutely. He is the best all-around sprinter at this year’s race and the only one that can get bonus sprint points in the mountains like Sagan can. Sagan is good, but perhaps not great yet and his is heavily invested in doing the Tour/Giro double, so his best legs are perhaps yet to come. But he is not on another team, and is committed to team duties. But what a beast he is! And another stage win is totally possible.

Fred: Yes, 100 percent. And the fact that Wout is being used as a workhorse instead of a green jersey star is a storyline to follow in the next few years. The greatest thing about super teams like Jumbo-Visma is that the star riders are eventually wrestled away from other squads who want to build around them. How long until some other squad offers Wout van Aert a bigger paycheck and more opportunities for personal glory? If I were a team director, that’s what I’d be thinking: Hire Wout, build a team around him for the classics and the green jersey, and make him the star of the team, not a worker bee.

Did the Moviestar rider get penalized as well for taking a feed on stage 5? He took a bottle prior to Alaphilippe – it is on the same video feed.

Andy: Indeed he did — sharp eye. So did Sepp Kuss. That rule is one of longest and most standard un peloton, so it was an obvious miscue by those teams. Sometimes officials will change distance. For example, it’s already announced in stage 7 the last feed is -15km instead of 20km due to forecasted heat.

James Startt: There were several teams placed on that climb, Movistar and Jumbo Visma. And their riders took penalties as well. But none of them were wearing the yellow jersey.

Fred: Yep, and they even dinged our boy Sepp Kuss! As controversial as the ruling was, at least the UCI race jury was consistent.

 

If you have any thoughts on ways to do so, feel free to email me at webletters@velonews.com.