Quinn Simmons crowned a phenomenal final year as a junior in Harrogate on Thursday by soloing to victory in the World Championships junior men’s road race.
The 18-year-old became the third American along with Greg LeMond in 1979 and Jeff Evanshine in 1991 to win the men’s junior road world title, in a gruelling race through Yorkshire which saw him breakaway with 33km remaining following a perfectly executed ride by the USA team.
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Simmons couldn’t quite find his form in the junior time trial earlier this week, where he finished fourth, but he found his strength for the road race in which the USA team were utterly dominant, controlling proceedings and eventually landing two riders on the podium, with Magnus Sheffield taking third behind Alessio Martinelli (Italy).
In the junior women’s ranks, fellow American Chloe Dygert took both the time trial and road race titles in Richmond back in 2015.
“The plan was to have the guys right up front like they did; they did that perfectly,” explained Simmons.
“We hit it over the second climb and tried to whittle down the group. We wanted to get me and Magnus into a small group on to the circuits, which was the goal. Maybe technically the the plan was to do it a little later than we did but I think we knew if we could get the two of us on to the circuit I could go solo from there.”
Simmons now ends his time as a junior having this year shown sensational form with wins at Ghent-Wevelgem and the US National Championships junior time trial among a number of others.
“It’s my last race as a junior you know so for sure I wanted to end it on a good note,” Quinn said. “We’ve had a great year and I think [the world title is] definitely a big accomplishment, especially for the team. Last time a junior won for the US was Greg LeMond [sic]. So it’s pretty crazy.”
He will now make the move up a level with WorldTour team Trek-Segafredo, who announced his signing just after the American had won.
A former mountain biker, Simmons had little road race experience before moving onto the road with his Lux Cycling Development Team in 2018 and said his successful transition was down to his director and former pro rider Roy Knickman – who rode alongside Greg LeMond in his career – taking a chance on him.
“Roy was my director with Lux for the last two years, and basically brought me on from a mountain bike team,” Simmons said.
“I give him pretty much all the credit for my development now, because no one else really wanted to take a chance on a mountain bike racer with very little results. He’s been there and done this all himself, he was a super junior. Just to have his mentorship has been super helpful.”
The USA team have had a successful World Championships in Yorkshire already, taking two medals in the U23 men’s time trial, gold with Chloe Dygert in the elite women’s time trial, and now a gold and bronze in the junior men’s.
The road races continue at the World Championships on Friday with the women’s junior and under-23 events.