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Tour de France

Neilson Powless’ Tour de France blog: I’m still figuring out the type of rider I am

After an impressive showing on Alpe d'Huez, the American says he's 'hungry for more' in his exclusive VeloNews blog.

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So much has happened since my last entry, I’m not quite sure where to start. But let’s begin with Col du Granon and get that episode out of the way.

That was a pretty rough day for me. I came into the stage with my plans still based on GC but I started getting pretty bad stomach cramps on the Télégraphe, the first climb of the day, and I lost all power almost immediately. My body felt empty and I had to call the doctor up to help settle my stomach. It really just zapped me. I lost so much time on the GC and from that point I’ve been focussing on stage wins.

Fast forward a day and I was in the break on the stage to Alpe d’Huez. WOW. That was such an epic experience and one that I’m really proud to have been involved with. The fans were absolutely wild, and you don’t get to experience crowds like that too often.

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The entire day was just full-on bike racing from start to finish and anyone who ended up in that break and was still there by the time we got to the bottom of Alpe d’Huez was a complete bike rider.

On the descents leading us to the Alpe we had Tom Pidcock setting the pace. That guy is a little daredevil. I like to think that I’m a good descender but on descents that I don’t know, and if we’re touching over 80kph, it makes me a little bit nervous when going into corners blind, but he was just on a mission. I can handle my bike well and I can descend well, but I don’t know if we were just in different mindsets because I wanted to get to Alpe d’Huez with a bit of a gap but he was thinking about getting back into GC. He was really pushing for every second and I could feel it.

When we reached the bottom of the climb I wasn’t feeling my best. I was still having to take acid reflux medicine to keep my stomach tamed. I was still ready to tackle the climb but I just had one speed the entire way up. I just couldn’t follow when the attacks went and was still a bit empty. I came home in fourth, behind Tom and two other riders. I would have loved to have won the climb and taken my first stage win but I can still be proud of my effort.

I don’t know if I have to change my tactics for the remainder of the race. I’m still trying to figure out the type of rider that I am because in the beginning of this race I thought that I was climbing pretty well but now I don’t know. Maybe I need to target more of the mixed mountain stages where I can race in a bit of a tactically difficult race as opposed to time trialing up the last climb.

It’s a tough one. I feel like I’m strong but in the history of all my races, the ones where I’ve done the best are the ones with mixed mountains and not really hour-long climbs. It’s always a gamble with breakaways but you just need to be a good rider and throw your hat in the ring.

What I know for certain is that I’m still hungry for more.