Native American Athlete Takes on the Tour de France

Native American Athlete Takes on the Tour de France

Posted By Paul G October 6th, 2020 Last Updated on: October 6th, 2020

Get ready to hear the name Neilson Powless more often. The 24-year old has become the first Native American cyclist to ride in the Tour de France after only riding professionally for 5 years. 

Athletics comes naturally to Powless; it’s in his blood, sweat, and tears. His love for cycling came at a young age after his mother encouraged him and his sister to begin competing in the triathlon. The cycling was his favorite part and has stuck with him ever since. 

“Neilson’s sporting family laid the foundation for his future professional success. His mom ran the marathon in the 1992 Olympics. His dad was in the Air Force and raced Ironmans, winning an award for being the top Ironman finisher who was also in the military,” (EF Pro Cycling). 

Powless, who as of 2020 became a member of the EF Pro Cycling Team (check out the team and stats here), is proud to be the first Native American in the professional cycling community, who have typically “been disenfranchised from sports like cycling because of the lack of access and opportunities,” (ESPN). 

Growing up, Powless didn’t have a Native American cyclist to look up to; he hopes to be able to make a difference in young peoples’ lives, increase visibility and exposure within Native communities, and increase opportunities Native American children have in the world of athletics. 

“Neilson makes it a point to accept every interview request because he knows the value of exposure, he said. Once cycling is done, he wants to go to reservations with his sister and talk to Native American youth about cycling and dreaming big,” (ESPN). 

His father, Jack, has high aspirations for his son in terms of his athletic performance and also the part he will play in being a role model for Native American communities, especially young people. 

“Endurance sports are a great way to help kids in the reservation stay on the right track,” he stated. “My dream for Neilson is to make a difference in young tribal members' lives — to make them better and to give them something to hope for and aspire to,” (ESPN). 

If you are interested in what Powless is doing next, check out the results of the 87th World Championships Road Race, which took place from September 24th to the 27th of 2020. 

Let’s go Powless!

Image courtesy of ESPN.

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Liz Fronheiser

Very happy to see Neelson Powless in the Tour de France. He made a great showing during the Tour, riding well in the big mountain stages. I look forward to seeing him in more classis races. He will be a great influence on younger people in the Nations. Proud of you, Neelson!

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