Neilson Powless on Saving Road Racing in America, Polka Dots and Parenthood

The top-ranked US rider talks us through his 2023 Tour de France, preparing for parenthood and his goals for next season and beyond

QUEBEC CITY, QUEBEC - SEPTEMBER 08: Neilson Powless of The Netherlands and Team EF Education-Easypost celebrates at podium as best climber rider during the 12th Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec 2023 a 201.6km one day race from Quebec to Quebec 92m / #UCIWT / on September 08, 2023 in Quebec City, Quebec. (Photo by Dario Belingheri/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Neilson Powless has had an awfully good year racing for EF Education–EasyPost. He won early in the season, stayed consistent with podium finishes throughout the season, and finished in the top ten in two Monuments —the Tour of Flanders and Milan-San Remo. What garnered the most attention stateside, however, was his spirited defense of the polka-dot jersey at the Tour de France, which he wore for the first two thirds of the race before, ultimately, finishing fourth in the category. We sat down with the 27-year-old American on an outdoor patio overlooking Baltimore’s Inner Harbor the day before the Maryland Cycling Classic to talk about his year so far. The Mid-Atlantic region might not be well-known for it, but it sees some serious heat and humidity in the late summer months, which he’d been quietly preparing for ahead of America’s highest level professional road race. Powless was relaxed and confident ahead of the race. He would place second, bettering his third place in 2022. 

[Conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.]

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