Quinn Simmons has shown signs of his early spring form at Tirreno-Adriatico, having taken home the green king of the mountains jersey. However, the prodigious American will not stay on in Italy to take aim at next Saturday's Milan-San Remo.
Instead, he will rest up at his European base in Girona, Spain, and then head to Belgium for the cobbled Classics with growing confidence and perhaps a more important role in Trek-Segafredo's squad alongside Mads Pedersen and Jasper Stuyven.
"With the efforts I've put in this week, it'd be just too much. I need the ten days between now and the Classics to take a break and rest up," Simmons told Cyclingnews and other reporters in San Benedetto del Tronto.
"Last year I did it and it was cool, especially with Jasper winning, but you've got to think of the bigger picture. For sure it's a race I want to do in the future and even aim for but not this year, it just doesn't fit in with my plans."
Trek-Segafredo started Tirreno-Adriatico backing Giulio Ciccone, who targeted the overall classification and stage victories. Simmons, meanwhile, got in the break of the day on stage 4 to Bellante and swept up the mountains points throughout the day to pull on the green jersey. He then defended it with pride, including a huge ride on Saturday's penultimate stage that climbed Monte Carpegna twice.
Simmons weighs 75kg and is a Classics rider by trade, but he was able to distance world champion Julian Alaphilippe (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) on the steep climb and so take the maximum 15 points at the summit to mathematically win the green jersey.
His classification leadership gave him a front-row slot at the start of the final few stages alongside Tadej Pogačar and recognition of his spring form.
"I was hoping for a stage win and was riding to prepare for the Classics. We missed out on the stage but it's a nice prize. It came a bit by chance. I thought it would be nice be on the podium in a WorldTour race like Tirreno," Simmons said.
"Then, together with the team, we realized that trying to keep it was a good idea. We had not really much to lose in trying. I know that could appear bit weird to see me with this jersey. It was hard but I'm really proud of it; it's a nice surprise."
Simmons enjoyed the spotlight and the cheers of the roadside tifos during the week. He said that it was a special experience, having raced much of his pro career so far at races under COVID-19 restrictions.
"People could probably see on TV how much I was suffering," he said of stage 6. "It takes a lot of effort to get my weight up climbs like that, it was pretty hard. But after five hours in the breakaway, you owe it to yourself to at least try to keep going on the climb.
"I haven't raced much as a pro where fans are allowed, so every time there are people cheering you on, it's quite special, especially on a climb like that."
Simmons' performances at Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico confirmed that he has developed year on year and worked well in preparation for the 2022 spring Classics.
"We took a gamble starting the season late but with my coach and our performance director, we worked well during the winter and came with a plan," he explained.
"I've learned more each year about what works for me. If I have a good winter at home, I'm able to start quite well. Now I hope to hold it through to the Classics.
Simmons will now add an extra dimension to Trek-Segafredo's Classics squad, which has also welcomed the addition of Markus Hoelgaard after an impressive showing for Uno-X last spring.
"We're in a good place to go into the Classics. "If we look within our team, Mads Pedersen was really good in Paris-Nice and Jasper Stuyven is riding quite well too," he said.
"We expect Wout van Aert to be good, there's no question, the best guys are the best guys for a reason. We have riders who can beat them."
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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.