San Dimas, California – A pair of time bonuses earned in Saturday's San Dimas Community Hospital Road Race helped Nielson Powless of the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team climb into third overall with one day to go at the San Dimas Stage Race.
Powless finished 10th in the 84-mile road race which comprised 12 laps of a 7-mile circuit around Frank G. Bonelli Park. Alfredo Rodriguez (EP Cyclists) won the race ahead of Ulises Alfredo (KHS-Maxxis-JLVelo). Jacob Rathe (Jelly Belly presented by Maxxis) was third in the same time as the stage winner. Powless finished two seconds behind after narrowly avoiding a crash.
"For the finish, I was in a great position," Powless said. "Jonny Brown did a great job getting me in a good spot before the last climb and Justin Oien – who was just in front of me – put me somewhere in the top 10. Unfortunately, Justin got caught in a crash with three other riders, which I nearly ended up in. Luckily, I made it through after losing a few seconds and did my best to make it back before the line. I am happy that I only lost two seconds. The team did a great job communicating with me and had me in great positions all day."
It was textbook teamwork that helped Powless pick up his bonus seconds. The Roseville, California resident finished third on the lap three bonus sprint, then won the one on lap five.
"I figured the time bonuses would be the biggest deciding factor, as anything could happen in the finish sprint," Powless said. "The time bonuses were also easier to have control of. Geoffrey Curran was in a solid move and I was bridging to get up to him for the first sprint. He pulled the trigger and made sure he and no one else won the sprint. I was able to sneak around the two groups up the road at the time to take the last bonus second. I think I took a few guys by surprise when I came around to grab that one second."
In the second sprint, Curran teamed with Phil O'Donnell – who finished 15th on the stage – for a perfect lead out. On the two other bonus sprints, a breakaway was away, leaving riders not high in the overall standings to contest them.
With only Sunday's 85-minute, six-corner criterium still to come, Powless is 20 seconds behind overall leader and Stage 1 winner Janier Acevedo (Team Jamis) and 14 seconds behind Brandon McNulty (LUX/Stradling), who also leads the best young rider standings ahead of Powless.