Frustrated after his finish at the junior men’s race at Paris-Roubaix in the third event of his first trip to Europe this season, Durango’s Quinn Simmons returned home and hammered out another training block. When he returned to Europe this month, he went back with a vengeance.
Simmons had already made history during his first voyage overseas this year when he won the Junior Gent-Wevelgem one-day classic in Belgium and became the first American to accomplish the feat. Sunday, he made a bit more history when he became the first U.S. rider to win the overall title at the SPIE International Juniors Three Days of Axel race in the Netherlands. The race has been held since 1982.
“Definitely a week to remember,” Simmons said. “Big thanks to all the (USA Cycling juniors) guys for keeping me protected all week. Really happy with this one.”
Friday, Simmons sprinted to victory during the first of four stages in three days. The 18-year-old had hoped to have a strong time trial ride Saturday morning followed by a 51-mile road stage the same day.
Simmons kept his overall leader’s yellow jersey despite a crash in the 7.5-mile individual time trial. He still won by 12 seconds in a total time of 15 minutes, 2 seconds. Hidde van Veenendaal of the Netherlands was second, and Michael Garrison of the U.S. was third, 14 seconds behind Simmons’ time.
“Time gaps were still close, so the TT was important,” Simmons said. “Was up on the fastest time halfway through and pushing pretty hard. It was raining, so wet roads, and I took a corner too fast and went down. Got back on and pushed hard to the finish, managing to hang on to the fastest time.”
Later Saturday, Simmons helped U.S. teammate Luke Lamperti score a podium spot with a third-place finish on the third stage, as Simmons led out a sprint in the closing stretch. Olav Kooij of the Netherlands won the stage in 1:53:57. Simmons was 17th and credited with the same time and maintained his overall lead going into Sunday’s final 62-mile stage in Velzeke.
Simmons smashed the competition in his final ride of the weekend with a winning time of 2:32:45, which was 46 seconds faster than second-place van Veenendaal and 59 seconds ahead of Lars Hohmann of the Netherlands.
“For Stage 4, I sat in for a while as the guys controlled things,” Simmons said. “Then, with (22 miles) to go, I attacked one of the cobble sectors and went solo from there.”
Simmons maintained the yellow jersey with a four-stage time of 7:21:59, which was 1:58 faster than van Veenendaal and 2:24 ahead of third-place GC finisher Hannes Wilksch of Germany.
Garrison finished fourth overall, 2:37 behind Simmons. U.S. rider Magnus Sheffield was eighth, 3:23 back, and he won the white jersey as the best young rider.
Along with the yellow GC jersey, Simmons brought home the green points jersey with 64 points based on his finish in each stage. Second went to van Veenendaal, who had 48 points.
Simmons also claimed the red sprinter jersey with 15 total points, while Sheffield was second with eight points.
Simmons finished second in the king of the mountain standings with 22 points, while Juel Robin Skivild of Denmark won with 30 points. Sheffield took home the gray cobblestone jersey with 20 points, while Simmons was second with 15 points.
Next for the Durango star is the Tour du Pays de Vaud starting June 2 in Switzerland.
He will return home and look to defend his junior road national championship when amateur road nationals begin June 20 in Maryland.