Salt Lake City, Utah — Closing out the seven-day Larry. H Miller Tour of Utah with his fourth top 10 finish, Neilson Powless solidified his place as the WCF Insurance Best Young Rider after wearing the jersey for six consecutive days. Powless finished his stellar week fourth overall behind overall race winner Rob Britton (Rally Cycling).
In only his third year as an Under 23 rider, the Northern California native recognized his week was the result of consistent teamwork and dedicated efforts from everyone involved in the project.
“This jersey is a testament to the work that my coach and I put in along with the team as a whole,” said Powless. “The Best Young Rider jersey means a lot. It was really awesome to repay the efforts of the guys by standing on the podium.”
For Axeon Hagens Berman Pro Cycling Team, the final stage played out similar to previous stages. The squad focused on racing aggressively, getting in breakaways, covering major threats, and protecting Powless. Will Barta spent much of the 117.8-kilometer race in the break while strong efforts by Rui Oliveira, Michael Rice, and Jhonatan Narvaez ensured there was no threat to Powless’s overall standings.
The Axeon riders stood toe to toe with bigger more experienced teams at the Tour of Utah including one WorldTour squad. Throughout America’s Toughest Stage Race, Axeon earned three podium finishes with Christopher Lawless sprinting to second on the opening stage, Logan Owen powering to third on Stage 5 and Powless rounding out the podium on Stage 6. Additionally, Lawless donned the Utah Sports Commission Sprinter’s jersey on Stage 3.
“It’s good to see everybody contributing to the effort of the team,” said Team Director Axel Merckx. “This race has always been good to us, and I’m proud to see our riders showing up and racing aggressively. Utah always serves as a good race and treats us well.”
There is little respite for Powless who heads to the famed Tour de l’Avenir, which is known for showcasing cycling’s future stars.
“It’s nice for Neilson to leave us on a high note,” said Merckx. “He’s been with us for two years and given us some great results. I’m proud to have contributed to not only his development but also as Chris and Logan’s growth.”
Up next for the team is the four-day Colorado Classic, which kicks off in Colorado Springs on Thursday.
Photo: Casey B. Gibson