Who was the highest ranked American cyclist in the 2022 Tour de France?
The 2022 Tour de France had strong showings by multiple American riders, with Powless as the best in the general classification.
Jonas Vingegaard won the Yellow Jersey, Pogačar won three stages and fought till the end, Wout Van Aert led the race at some point of almost every stage, but this Tour de France gave us many more storylines to remember, such as an American rider finishing better than anyone, even his team, expected: Neilson Powless
Powless, a Native American domestique turned into leader
EF Education-Easy Post is an American team founded by Jonathan Vaughters and are well known by their eye-catching jerseys. They came to this Tour de France with Magnus Cort Nielsen as their prospective stage winner and Rigoberto Urán as their best hope for a good result in the overall standings. One worked out, the other did not. Nielsen won stage 10 after a long breakaway, but he had to withdraw five days later due to Covid-19. Urán, who finished second in 2017, had a top-10 GC finish as his objective, which he had achieved in the last three seasons, but he was nowhere near it this year, ending up 26th at +1h48′18′'. This left Neilson Powless, a rider who was supposed to help Urán, as the strongest one in the team and finishing way higher at 13th.
Powless became the first Native American to take part in the Tour de France in 2020, and he has not stopped progressing. He is just 25 years old, an age at which cyclists usually start to show their potential and achieve results. In modern cycling, there are titans like Pogaçar or Evenepoel who are able to dominate from way earlier in their careers, but that does not mean that Powless cannot keep improving as he ages. The American rider only has one professional win so far, albeit an impressive one, the Clásica de San Sebastián 2021, ahead of 2022 Milan-San Remo winner Matej Mohoric.
Powless came close to wearing the Yellow Jersey during the first week of this Tour, just 13″ behind Van Aert at stage five and 4″ behind Pogaçar after the seventh. Finishing just +46′57″ behind Vingegaard, Powless has proved that he can be more than a simple domestique and that he may not yet be ready to fight for grand tour victories or podiums, but he is already a better bet to finish in the Top-10 than his teammate Urán.
Kuss and McNulty, deluxe domestiques
The two other Americans who had a great role in this Tour de France were Team Jumbo Visma’s Sepp Kuss and UAE’s Brandon McNulty, as they helped their leaders get through the most difficult stages and get to Paris safely. Kuss has been showing his climbing strength for years now, and he was just another incredible rider in a team full of them, making Vingegaard have a teammate with him at all times, either the American or Van Aert after Roglic withdrew.
McNulty had even more responsibility helping Pogačar due to UAE’s weaknesses and injuries. They both finished in good spots of the general classification even after all their work, with Kuss at 18th and McNulty at 20th.