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Neilson Powless got his dream ending Sunday.
Powless led home an EF Education-EasyPost one-two at the Japan Cup in the final day of his 2022 season.
“I made a lot of progress this year but I was always missing a win,” Powless said. “I was really happy with the way I developed and the improvements I made, but as a bike rider, you really just want to win a bike race. So I’m just so happy that I could do it in Japan, at the last race of the year.”
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Powless impressed all through the year and moved to the very center of EF Education-EasyPost’s ambitions after three years with the team.
The U.S. star claimed a career-best monument top-10 at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and narrowly missed the stage-winner’s podium twice at the Tour de France. He also came within seconds of scoring the States’ first yellow jersey since 2006 in the Tour’s dramatic cobblestone stage.
Powless ended the run of close calls in style Sunday in what was his first time to take the top step since his debut pro victory at Donostia San Sebastian last year.
EF Education-EasyPost dominated the 1.Pro Japan Cup from the first of its 10 hilly circuits outside of Utsunomiya.
Powless, Andrea Piccolo, and James Shaw surged into the front group that formed in the very first lap and dictated the racing to launch the 26-year-old Powless for solo victory at the turn of the final 14km lap.
The recently-signed Piccolo continued his impressive mid-season start for the EF Education team with a second-place finish, 12 seconds back.
“I think a tough race suited us well,” Powless said. “We have riders with really good depth. We came here with some strong one-day riders. James Shaw is a really strong one-day rider. He and Andrea Piccolo showed their strength today. First and second is a perfect race for us.”
💥💥💥💥💥💥 NEILSON AND ANDREA GO 1-2 AT THE JAPAN CUP!
What an incredible team performance! pic.twitter.com/hqqwZJqNFu
— EF Pro Cycling (@EFprocycling) October 16, 2022
EF Education-EasyPost is currently secure in the “safe zone” of the UCI relegation battle after sliding down the rankings mid-season. Powless and Piccolo’s one-two handed the team extra safety with a bucketload 350 points.
The team wraps up its 2022 calendar Sunday with riders in France at the Chrono des Nations and Malaysia for the Tour de Langkawi, where Hugh Carthy and Esteban Chaves sit two-four on GC with two stages remaining.
Any more UCI points scored Sunday will be a bonus as Jonathan Vaughters’ team pedals its way into another three seasons in the WorldTour.