Quinn Simmons was shivering after the long, hard, and very cold stage over Monte Carpegna at Tirreno-Adriatico but he had an extra jersey to keep him warm as the sun set over the Apennines, stepping onto the podium to pull on the distinctive green jersey as the leader of the mountains classification after stage 6.
The 20-year-old Trek-Segafredo rider knew he had to go in the early break of the day and score as many points as possible on the first climb of Monte Carpegna. He did more than that, beating classification rival and early leader Davide Bais (Eolo-Kometa) to score five points on the early Mombaroccio climb.
Later, he went on to drop all of his breakaway companions, including world champion Julian Alaphilippe, to lead over the summit the first time up Monte Carpegna.
That gave him 20 points for the day and a total of 35 mountain points, 10 more than Tadej Pogačar, who was first over Monte Carpegna the second as he cruised to the stage victory to extend his overall lead.
With only five points up for grabs on the sole categorised climb of stage 7, Simmons and Trek-Segafredo could celebrate their success in the mountains classification a day early.
"I had a goal at the start and with the team, it was to put at least one of us in the breakaway, to keep the jersey. We did it," Simmons said post-stage, as even local Italian fans recognised his performance and asked for autographs and selfies.
"It was a big fight to get in the break but I made it. It was for sure a long day at 215km, and with that many metres of climbing it is never easy.
"It was a hard day out. But I was even able to help Cicco [Giulio Ciccone] going into the final climb and I hear he's top ten on the GC now, so that's a successful day for us."
Simmons won the junior world road race title in 2019 in Yorkshire after dominating in the junior ranks that season. He immediately turned professional with Trek-Segafredo to fast track his career but the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted his neo-pro years.
He was also suspended for several months by Trek-Segafredo when the rescheduled 2020 season was held in the autumn for some social media posts that were deemed "divisive, incendiary, and detrimental" by his team.
Last season, he won a stage and the overall classification at the Tour de Wallonie, and now looks stronger and wiser on the bike in 2022. He was seventh at Strade Bianche and has now added the mountains jersey at Tirreno-Adriatico to his palmarès as he hunted for a stage victory that eventually proved not to be on Saturday.
"Any time you can take a jersey in a WorldTour race is nice and it's the first time for me. I'm happy," he said.
"This is really only my second season as a pro. It's hard to count the first year after Coronavirus and everything. But I like to race and today was real racing."
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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.