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Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) came within a whisker of his first win of the season on stage 5 of the Tour de Suisse after just losing out to winner and new race leader Alexsandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe).
Powless made a key split inside the final 3km when he rode away with Vlasov, and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) in pursuit of the lone leader Jakob Fuglsang (Israel Premier Tech). The four riders would fight it out for the stage win after a relentlessly punishing day in the saddle but a perfect sprint from Vlasov would give the Russian the win and the yellow jersey.
Powless started the sprint at the back but was forced to make two efforts in the final few hundred meters after being caught behind Thomas, who appeared to initially struggle with Vlasov’s acceleration. The American closed the first gap and then tried to come around the Russian’s right but in the end he ran out of road, bashing his handlebars in frustration as he was forced to settle for second.
“I lost a bit of speed in the last corner and I tried to make up for that but it wasn’t quite enough at the finish,” Powless said at the finish.
“I knew that I was coming with speed and that I was a bit faster but he was already too far in front. Unfortunately his legs were too good today. Still, I’m really happy with the performance and the team. We had Tom Scully pulling all day on the front for a stage win. We couldn’t repay his efforts but we came close. We came close.”
EF Education-Easypost was a consistent presence throughout the stage with Rigoberto Uran and Hugh Carthy in the front group before the final selection was made. Powless, who is well on track for another ride at the Tour de France this year, took his opportunity when he jumped clear with Thomas and Vlasov in the finale, and despite not having the best legs, he raced smartly as he covered the key moves.
“Over the second to last climb I was boxed out from following the moves. I had to come back over the top. When I was able to come back I knew that I had good legs, so I just tried to be really smart and conserve as much as possible, and then watch Bora and Ineos, as they were the ones with the most to lose,” he said.
“I don’t think that the move could have been better with Geraint and Vlasov. They are both two super strong riders looking at GC so I just tried to use them all the way to the finish as much as I could. I could feel that they were a bit stronger on each of the rises, so I just tried to save everything.”