US Cyclist Neilson Powless Is Living His Dream in the Tour de France

Sunday September 20, 2020

A screenshot of a YouTube announcement of the US team at this year's Tour de France
A screenshot of a YouTube announcement of the US team at this year's Tour de France  

Prior to being picked to run the Tour de France, U.S. cyclist Neilson Powless didn't think he'd made the cut. "He was on the long list, but the tour was coming up, and he hadn't heard anything. He'd even mapped out the other small races where he could compete in Europe," reports ESPN.com.


When he heard while in a training camp in the tiny country of Andorra, he couldn't speak. It took minutes for him to form words of gratitude to his team manager Charly Wegelius. Then he called his parents to deliver the news of being the first Native American to make it to the Tour de France.

Now with the 23-day race coming to an end tomorrow, "Powless has distinguished himself in a crop of exciting young talents who helped set this Tour alight. Crossing the finish in Paris on Sunday will, he hopes, resonate on reservations back in the United States," reports the Associated Press.

Over the course of the grueling race, Powless has "has ridden into two winning breakaways -- going on an attack on the Col d'Eze on the first weekend and helping teammate Rigoberto Uran avoid losses in the crosswinds. He finished in the top five twice on the first weekend," reports ESPN.

And racing in the Tour de France was always his dream. "By the time Neilson started high school, he had an unwavering vision -- to compete and win a stage race at the Tour de France. But it didn't come easily. Cycling, still a predominantly white and rich sport, constantly required upgraded bikes, helmets and the ability to travel to races. With the help of his community, Neilson fundraised, using bake sales and bike raffles to make just enough money to buy a bike and a plane ticket for races," the ESPN report continues.

"Powless' participation -- and success -- at the Tour de France is a far bigger story than just one athlete making it to the big leagues," ESPN concludes. "It's a story of visibility for the Native American community, which has been disenfranchised from sports like cycling because of the lack of access and opportunities.

And once the race is over, he sees the importance of his role in it is to his community and "wants to go to reservations with his sister and talk to Native American youth about cycling and dreaming big," writes ESPN.

Check out Powless's Instagram pics of him on and off his bike:


















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