Neilson Powless wins the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race
Neilson and Andrea Piccolo finish the season with a fantastic one-two finish
It was a fairytale end to a long road season and an incredible demonstration of grit and perseverance from the entire team.
The penultimate race of the season and traditional denouement of the road-racing calendar – the Japan Cup – always delivers a spectacular race. The 14-kilometre circuit around Mount Kogashi in the outskirts of Utsunomiya favours the brave and the team executed their bold strategy to perfection.
“I think a tough race suited us well,” said Neilson Powless after the finish. “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.”
Attacks were flying from the very first lap when a select group of riders went up the road. The break included the team’s own James Shaw, Neilson Powless and Andrea Piccolo. Between the three of them, they covered moves and kept their cool as their rivals tried their luck.
Neilson Powless waited until the penultimate time up Mount Kogashi to launch his attack. Crossing the start/finish line with a small gap, he kept stamping on the pedals, pushing his bike to its limits around the corners of the descent to go clear.
Andrea Piccolo, who is just in his third month with the team, put on a clinic of how to disrupt a chase and with Neilson solidly in front and the riders in his group struggling to make up any distance to the charging American, Andrea launched an attack of his own to secure the top two places on the podium for the team.
“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.”
Hands held high in triumph, Neilson crossed the line ahead of a jubilant Andrea who took the time to celebrate his teammate’s victory as well. This is Neilson’s second victory of his career and wraps up another stellar year for the young American climber.
“I made a lot of progress this year but I was always missing a win,” says Powless. “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.”
It’s been a long road season and we are proud of the way the riders finished it off. Congrats to the entire team.
Arigato Gozaimasu Japan for another unforgettable week.