Powers finished sixth after powering a three-rider group that chased winner Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace), runner-up Sven Nys and third-placed Michael Vanthourenhout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) for the last half of the race.
Lars van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin) and Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) rode in Powers’ slipstream during the chase and then slipped past him before the finish to take the fourth and fifth spots, respectively.
“I’ve never had the best sprint, and both Lars and Kevin Pauwels have sprinted to World Cup wins, so I wouldn’t say I was defeated,” Powers told Cyclingnews in the finishing straight.
“I definitely went for it. I tried to force it here on the stairs but Lars got in front of me as he saw I was riding it. I tried to force it through the twisties, but I couldn’t. Honestly, I missed the move with Sven, and I knew that was the move and I got swarmed here. I was just like, ‘dammit.’”
Despite riding to his best World Cup finish to date, Powers was still disappointed to miss out on the podium.
“With the podium literally in sight, for me it’s definitely tough,” he said.
Asked if he had said anything to Van der Haar and Pauwels while they were sitting on, Powers said he hadn’t.
“Nah, that’s just not my style," he said. “And I don’t think they would have gone for that. It’s a World Cup, you know. So, no. I wish.”
Disappointment at missing the podium aside, Powers’ result against top-notch international competition bodes well for the rider who finished ninth overall in the World Cup last year.
“For me it’s a progression,” he said. “I did a lot of work in the offseason and now we’re here and this is a great result, but over in Europe is a totally different beast.
“I think this is a great first test against the international field. It’s a good opportunity moving forward from here to kind of do a better World Cup. Last year I was, I think, ninth overall, so to do a little bit better than that would be great this year.”
Powers’ program for the 2015-16 season will be similar to last year’s; he will concentrate on the World Cup events, some European races and several category 1 races in the US.
“So very similar to last year,” he said.
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