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Watching Garmin helps save Powless from San Sebastián crash as American takes first pro win

SAN SEBASTIAN SPAIN JULY 31 Neilson Powless of United States and Team EF Education Nippo attacks in the Breakaway during the 41st Donostia San Sebastian Klasikoa 2021 a 2235km race from DonostiaSan Sebastian to DonostiaSan Sebastian Klasikoa on July 31 2021 in San Sebastian Spain Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo MorenoGetty Images
Powless in front of fellow breakaway riders en route to sprint victory (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Neilson Powless (EF Education-Nippo) came away with his first pro win on Saturday, taking a thrilling victory in Clásica San Sebastián after outsprinting the rest of his breakaway companions, but the American found himself in the right place at the right time when Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) overcooked it on a corner on the final descent.

The Slovenian was forced to brake and unclip as behind him Mikkel Honoré (Deceuninck-QuickStep) went down in the corner along with Lorenzo Rota (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux). Powless had slowed efficiently into the corner and drifted to safety as Honoré slammed into a wall and Rota came tumbling down.

On the run-in Powless, Honoré and Mohoric linked up before the American powered to the line to take his maiden win. It was a masterclass in racing from EF Education-Nippo who had Simon Carr in the main move alongside Powless with under 40km to go.

“I was watching the map on my Garmin,” explained Powless when asked about the incident. “I think the guys who were in front of me were maybe too focussed on the situation of the race and not so much the road. I could see it was a sharp corner coming up that they ended up crashing in. In the end I was just happy to keep upright, and stay as fresh as possible for the end."

EF Education-Nippo came into the race without a recognized favourite but they posted Carr up the road and the British rider managed to drop Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) before powering clear. Powless followed a counter-attacking move in the final 40km of the race and made a last ditch attack on the final ascent of the race, that briefly dropped the rest of the break after Carr began to suffer.

Mohoric, a two-time stage winner at the Tour de France, pulled the move back together before the summit but on the wet and sketchy roads the Slovenian hit a tight right-hand corner with too much speed. When he unclipped, he left Honoré with nowhere to go and the Dane hit the wall, sending his bike into the path of the unlucky Rota. 

Part luck, part skill and experience, Powless continued on the descent and although both Honoré and Mohoric came back to him inside the final 3km, he had enough in the tank to beat them both in the sprint.