Quinn Simmons typically wouldn’t target a mountain finish for a personal result at a stage cycling race. But on the final day of the Tour de Hongrie, the 19-year-old from Durango had the form to attack for his best result yet as a WorldTour rookie.
Simmons would finish second on the final stage of the Tour of Hungary on Wednesday. After four previous days of bunch sprints, his finish in Gyöngyös-Kékesteto led him to a second-place finish overall. It was his first stage podium and first general classification podium on the International Cycling Union (UCI) WorldTour and an impressive result for the youngest WorldTour pro in history.
“I think it’s just another step,” Simmons said Friday in a phone interview with The Durango Herald after arriving in Girona, Spain. “I am slowly improving each race and now looking forward to getting that first win. It’s been a bit of a slow progression without any racing for four months during the pandemic. It has taken awhile to find race form, but it started in France and now here. The legs are coming around.”
Simmons, a Trek-Segafredo team rider, was behind only Hungarian Attila Valter of the CCC Pro Team on the final stage. Valter won the 117-mile route in 4 hours, 35 minutes, 15 seconds. Simmons was 10 seconds back and two seconds in front of Australia’s Damien Howson of Mitchelton-Scott. Simmons, who began the final stage in 12th place, would finish 12 seconds down to Valter in the final standings and four seconds ahead of Howson for second place.
The stage included a Category 1 and Category 2 climb. The final climb of the day was at a 5.5% grade. Howson had attacked up the road with 1½ miles to go, but Valter responded with a little more than a half mile to go with his own attack. Simmons was able to go with Valter
Simmons surprised himself by being able to go with Valter’s final move of the day on a steep climb.
“It was kind of the only GC day we had,” Simmons said. “We had bunch sprints to the finish the days before. We had one chance to make a difference. For me, in a finish like that, it’s not something I targeted going in. I always strive for full gas to see what can happen. At the start of the day, I would have been happy to just make the front group. In the end, I had better legs than I thought and was able to hang on for a decent result.”
Simmons had played a strong role in setting up teammate Matteo Moschetti for a second-place finish on Stage 2 and a fourth place on Stage 3. Moschetti is coming back from a severe injury, and Simmons was eager to help the sprinter in the leadout to the finish line.
“Matteo is coming back from a pretty bad crash earlier in the year,” Simmons said. “We didn’t get him a win, but twice we were in good sprints for him. After him not being able to walk two months ago, this was a big step. It’s cool to see him back and to work on getting our leadout trains perfected. When he’s on top form again, he’ll be a hard guy to beat.”
Simmons has enjoyed getting to watch his other Trek-Segafredo teammates and Durango’s Sepp Kuss at the Tour de France. He has 10 days to prepare for his next event, the Tour of Luxembourg before preparation for the one-day Classics. Simmons, last year’s junior road world champion, will not compete at the rescheduled and relocated UCI World Championships from Sept. 24-27 in Italy. The UCI did not schedule under-23 or junior races this year. He had the option to race in the elite men’s race but declined. Kuss will represent USA Cycling at the world championships along with Neilson Powless, Brandon McNulty and Lawson Craddock.
“I decided not to race worlds this year. In the end, a 5,000-meter day (of climbing) doesn’t make a ton of sense for me. I had the option to race elite, but, in the end, it’s nice for me to have a couple of weeks to prepare for the Classics. Once October starts, it’s twice a week racing and full gas to Paris-Roubaix.”