Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo) completed a great day for the USA’s next generation of male pro riders, taking the green climber’s jersey at Tirreno-Adriatico after a long attack during stage 4 less than an hour after compatriot Brandon McNulty was similarly aggressive at Paris-Nice and won the stage.
Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) also joined in the next-gen show, finishing third on the Paris-Nice stage to Saint-Sauveur-de-Montagut and pulling on the white best young rider’s jersey.
“The last time we had Americans riding at this level was with Postal,” 20-year-old Simmons suggested to Cyclingnews and Velonews after pulling on the distinctive green jersey, referring to the days of the US Postal Service team.
“It’s good news about McNulty’s win, he’s had a great season so far, it's his third win. Magnus Sheffield has won too, Neilson (Powless) won San Sebastian last year, too.”
While McNulty is rapidly building his stage racing career at UAE Team Emirates, Simmons is developing as a Classics rider. He has yet to race a full spring campaign but is pushing for a place in the Trek-Segafredo team for Milan-San Remo and then in Belgium and especially for Paris-Roubaix.
“I’m here to prepare for the Classics. Today the stage started hard, there was the break and then a hard finale, so it was perfect preparation and a nice surprise to take the jersey,” he explained, happy with the outcome and the surprise green mountains jersey.
“I've never worn a jersey in a WorldTour race before and I never thought the climber’s jersey would be my first one. It was a nice day, hard, long and a good final. Cicco (Giulio Ciccone) rode reality well too, so the team hit all of our objectives.
“When I went in the break early on the idea was to win the stage but the way they chased with 100km to go, you knew it’s going to be hard. But you don’t give up, you try to make the most of it.”
Simmons worked in the break and made sure to sweep up some early mountain points as they tried to escape the control of the peloton. When he sensed the other riders in the break was slowing him down, he took off alone with 40km and three climbs up to Bellante to go.
Just like when he won the junior world title in Yorkshire, Simmons committed to the attack.
“When the breakaway I was in made it to the finish in last year’s Vuelta, it was because seven of us went all out. I felt today, with the same cohesion, we could do the same again and surprise them,” he explained.
“I told them that we had to go full gas. I don’t know if they were tired or just didn’t want to play but people weren't committed, so then you have to go yourself. Even if it doesn’t work out, you have to put on a show right?” Simmons suggested with a smile, after enjoying his day out front.
“There’s always a chance they miss something, it wasn’t about me doing something right, it was about them messing up in the end. You just go flat out as long as you can.”
Simmons trained hard at altitude in the USA in February to be on form for the spring Classic, carefully working on his strength to weight ratio to be good at Strade Bianche and even stages like today at Tirreno-Adriatico.
“I’m skinnier than I've been before but I'm still 75kg or so, a bit more than most of these guys,” he said of the climbers in the race.
“I did a long attitude camp and we worked with Steven (De Jongh), on my climbing to target Strade Bianche and also for the Tour of Flanders. I'm happy with the work we did this winter and the changes we made. We made a good step and we can look forward to the next races.”
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.