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Quinn Simmons is champing at the bit to get back to racing in 2023.
At 21, the Trek-Segafredo rider is watching riders whom he considered his peers like Remco Evenepoel, also 21, and Tadej Pogačar, 24, rip up the WorldTour.
He’s tired of waiting in the wings, and the 2019 junior world champion is ambitious to elbow his way onto the world stage next season.
“It’s not a fun time to be a young rider right now if you’re not superhuman,” Simmons said. “I remember racing juniors with Remco. And now he’s [won] the Vuelta. It’s inspiring and cool to see someone you raced against doing that, but you can start to feel like you’re falling behind.
“You can’t compare yourself to someone like these guys,” he recently told VeloNews and Cyclingnews. “Maybe it takes me a couple of years extra to get to the highest level, or maybe it never happens. We don’t know.
“But I still believe that. I believe at some point I can win the biggest races. I don’t know when it’s gonna be, but I’m going to keep trying every year until it either doesn’t happen or it does.”
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Simmons rode through an emotional 2022 campaign that saw him light up Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico, only to come down with a bad case of the flu and miss the northern classics.
He bounced back for his Tour de France debut, riding into no less than five breakaways. He was 11th in stage 10, and helped teammate Mads Pedersen win two days later into Saint-Etienne.
“It’s frustrating because so many times already this year and last year that I feel like I’m in the position to do something good. And then it just doesn’t happen,” Simmons said. “It’s just miscalculations on my part. Sometimes at the end of the day, you just need that one lucky moment to get away and win. I’ve never had that.”
Looking to step up even higher
Simmons already won his first pro races in 2021, when he won a stage and the overall at the Tour de Wallonie.
After turning pro as a teenager after winning the junior world road title in 2019, Simmons is riding into 2023 with his contract up at Trek-Segafredo.
If there’s any pressure, it’s pressure he’s putting on himself.
“I’m learning at being patient,” Simmons said. “I want to finally be able to be the one who can get it done. I’ve come close before and I was at least playing for the win.”
Simmons had the bad luck to turn pro in 2020 just at the start of the world pandemic.
Despite the chaos thrown into the international calendar the past few seasons, Simmons has been able to prove his worth on the team. After 2021, the team re-signed him to a two-year deal through 2023.
He came flying into 2022 intent on making an impact, and lit up Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico, only to have the wheels come off with illness.
“When I look back at the spring it’s a bit annoying. I’ve had three years now where the classics basically fell apart,” Simmons said. “And this year, I left Tirreno thinking this is the year where I can finally do something, and then we all know that story already.
“I don’t need to sit here and make excuses, but it’s annoying to work all winter to get to a level, and then he just knocked down and have to restart.”
As Simmons mentioned, he fell ill after Tirreno-Adriatico, where he won the best climber’s jersey and finished seventh in Strade Bianche the week before.
There was still plenty of racing left, and once he recovered, he reloaded for the Tour de Suisse, where he almost won his first WorldTour race.
That consistency opened the door for his Tour debut, a moment that Simmons said, “I was so happy I almost started crying.”
Simmons is hoping to go back in 2023, and reel in a very big fish.