Quinn Simmons was looking for a professional road cycling team to hop on board with for the Redlands Bicycle Classic in California in an effort to get some in-race training before he heads to Europe with his LUX Development Cycling Team.
The Landis Cyclery/Trek Team had an open spot for a guest rider and welcomed Simmons, the reigning junior road race national champion.
Simmons attacked the third stage Friday at Redlands, a five-stage event and the first of 19 races on this year’s USA Cycling Pro Road Tour calendar. He set his sights on the two intermediate sprint bonus sections on the six-lap, 90-mile Yucaipa road race stage. He finished third on the first sprint to earn three points and came across first in the second sprint to earn another seven points. The 10 points put him in the green sprinter’s jersey with a one-point advantage ahead of SoCalCycling’s Rene Corella.
Despite his amateur status, the rising 18-year-old road star who has also won multiple junior mountain bike national championships showed he belongs in the big races.
[image;1,headshot]“Pretty early on, about 1-kilomter in, I attacked,” Simmons said in a phone interview with The Durango Herald. “I threw out a break that rolled pretty easily, and we got about a minute (gap) going into the first sprint. Sprints are really hard and all about timing. I misjudged it the first time around and ended up third. The next time around, I got it figured out and was able to win that one.”
Simmons wasn’t done after winning the sprint bonuses. His original plan was to sit up in his seat and take it easy the rest of the day. Instead, he went solo at the front of the race for more than nine miles until he was caught by the chase group with three miles to go until the finish. He went on to finish 51st in 3 hours, 49 minutes, 29 seconds, 6:12 behind First Internet Bank Cycling rider Stephen Bassett.
“I was going to save things for tomorrow and Sunday. But we had a three-minute gap, and I decided to push it and see what happened,” Simmons said. “I attacked the break with 20K to go, and it was all uphill to the finish. That’s not really my thing, but I figured I’d try anyway.”
Simmons is in 41st in the general classification standings and is 6:46 behind Hagens Berman Axeon rider Kevin Vermaerke, who has a 24-second advantage on Eder Frayre of Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling. Simmons finished 21st in the seven-mile opening-stage time trial, 43 seconds behind Hagens Berman Axeon’s Sean Quinn. He was 13th during the second stage, a 58.1-mile, 20-lap circuit in the city of Highland. He was only nine seconds back of Vermaerke.
Simmons has seen some continental team talent at races in Arizona but is competing in his first big American pro road race. He has enjoyed his seat with the Landis team and said he has had free reign to do what he wants as he uses the opportunity to prepare for his big spring goal of the Paris-Roubaix Juniors race, where he finished seventh a year ago despite two flat tires.
Now, he’s looking forward to the Stage 4 Redlands downtown criterium and Sunday’s final 94.1-mile road stage. After that, it’s on to Europe.
“Tomorrow’s crit has a ton of intermediate sprint points. I’m going for that and trying to keep the jersey,” he said. “With the junior gears, it makes it hard with the fast sprints. Sunday has an early circuit that suits me really well, and I’m really looking forward to that to try to get more sprint points.”
Also at the Redlands Bicycle Classic, Fort Lewis College alum Griffin Easter, who rides for the 303Project, is in 66th in the GC standings, 11:54 off the lead. Fort Lewis College’s Charlotte Backus, riding for the Femme Equipe p/b Swisse Wellness, is in 54th in the women’s GC standings, 23:12 off the lead held by Amber Neben of the Trek Red Truck Racing p/b Mosaic Homes team.