Tirreno-Adriatico: Quinn Simmons keeps pushing toward classics breakout

Long-distance breakaway lands Quinn Simmons into climber's jersey and puts him in spotlight heading into classics season.

Photo: James Startt/VeloNews

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BELLANTE, Italy (VN) — Quinn Simmons knows if he keeps banging on the door it will eventually bust open.

Just days after a big ride with seventh at Strade Bianche, the Trek-Segafredo rider was in the spotlight again Thursday in an all-or-nothing breakaway effort that fell about 10km short in Thursday’s fourth stage at Tirreno-Adriatico.

“People weren’t committed [in the break] and so then you have to go. Even if it doesn’t work out, you have to put on a show right?” Simmons said at the line.

“I don’t know if they were tired or just didn’t want to play,” Simmons continued. “When my breakaway made it in the Vuelta it was because seven of us went all out. I felt today, with the same cohesion, we can do the same again and surprise them.”

Also read: Quinn Simmons lights up white roads

The finishing circuit featured three passages over a short but steep climb to the hilltop town. Simmons dropped the break on the first passage, and went for alone with nearly 30km still to go.

With the peloton keen to battle for the overall leader’s jersey, Simmons knew it a roll-the-dice kind of move.

“There’s always a chance they miss something,” he said. “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 and when I knew it was over, I rested a bit on the descent to do some positioning work.”

Building for the classics with no looking back

Simmons, 20, is riding into his third season at Trek-Segafredo with newfound confidence.

Last year, he won his first pro race and finished his first grand tour, completing the Vuelta a España and riding into a late-race breakaway to finish third in stage 3.

On Thursday, it was all business before, during, and after the stage. Simmons earned the best climber’s jersey for the day’s breakaway effort.

“It feels weird, 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,” Simmons said.

Tirreno-Adriatico is Simmons’ runway toward the spring classics, where he hopes to shine. Simmons told Belgian journalists this week that he dreams of becoming the first American to win the Tour of Flanders.

“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,” Simmons said Thursday.

“I’m happy with my legs. We did a long attitude camp and the way we worked with Steven (De jongh), on my climbing to target Strade, and also for the Tour of Flanders,” he said. “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.”

Simmons said he’s “skinnier than I’ve been before but I’m still 75kg or so,” a statement that reveals the strength of his motor on the incessant hills of the Apennines.

Simmons also commented on if his results coupled with recent wins from Brandon McNulty and Magnus Sheffield, a winner of a stage at Ruta del Sol in his rookie season, bodes well for the future of American cycling.

“That’s good news. McNulty’s had a great season so far, it’s his third win. He’s won, Magnus Sheffield has won, Neilson won San Seb last year,” Simmons said. “The last time we had American riding at this level was with [U.S.] Postal.”

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