A few mountain bike connections landed Durango teenager Quinn Simmons on his first road racing team. In his first stage race, Simmons won two of three stages to claim the general classification win.
Simmons, 17, joined the Lux Cycling Development Team for 2018 and raced with the team for the Valley of the Sun Stage Race last weekend in Phoenix. He raced in the junior men 17-18 age category.
Simmons won the race-opening time trial Friday and added another win in the Saturday road race. He placed second in the criterium Sunday to take the GC victory and the right to stand atop the podium.
“Other than the Iron horse and the Squawker here in Durango, it was really my first junior road race and first time riding with a team,” Simmons said. “There was a whole bunch of different new stuff for me to learn.”
Simmons said his goal was to finish in the top five of the time trial. He prepared on the traditional Iron Hose Bicycle Classic La Posta (County Road 213) time trial course in Durango and was in good form for the opening event.
He used that form to place first in 31 minutes, 1.147 seconds, which was better than 18-year-old teammate Andrew Vollmer of California, who finished in 31:03.851.
“I knew I had a decent ride,” Simmons said. “My legs felt OK. But, when they told me I won, I was pretty surprised. To find out I actually won it was a sick moment.”
Simmons completed the four-lap road race in 2:29:24 and won a sprint to the finish. Kendrick Boots of Centennial and the Aevolo team was second in the same time.
“The course had a little climb but nothing that broke the field up,” Simmons said of the mellow course. “After the time trial, our team had first, second and fourth in the GC, so we were going into the road race with a pretty solid plan. For me, the road race was pretty easy because the team worked so well. They contained everything. When it came to the last lap, there were a few people a minute up the road. The whole team went to the front to chase that down. I was the sprinter because I was the only one who hadn’t had a pull out front that day.”
Simmons was second to Louisiana’s Lance Abshire of Sent It Racing team in the Sunday criterium race. Simmons finished in the same time as the winner, 40:17. That locked up his place atop the GC standings.
The Valley of the Sun Stage Race is a USA Cycling national team selection race, and Simmons will now be part of the junior national team this year. He will leave Durango in March for two races, Gent-Wevelgem in Belgium and Paris-Roubaix in France.
Simmons, who is the USA Cycling junior cross-country mountain bike national champion, had never raced much on road bikes. He participated in Thursday night criterium races on the East Coast a bit last year and started to talk with Whole Athlete mountain bike teammate Kevin Vermaerke about his Lux team. Simmons also needed to be on a team that uses Specialized bikes, and Lux was the perfect fit.
“Kevin had been on Lux that year already, and I was thinking about trying road racing,” Simmons said. “I think it is good to do both (mountain bike and road), and I asked Kevin for his director’s email. Roy Knickman, I emailed him and said I was a mountain bike kid without any road results but thought I could work well for a team. I sent him my power numbers, Kevin gave me good words and Ned (Overend) reached out to him because they are friends from awhile back. There was room on the team for me, and I got lucky.”
As soon as Simmons gets back from Paris, he will fly to California for the Bonelli Park XC mountain bike race, the second stop of the US Cup series. He will miss the US Cup’s opening stop, the Fontana City National.
“I’ll be at the second race of the year for Whole Athlete,” he said. “It’s a bummer to miss those 90 points at Fontana, but I will make the rest of the U.S. mountain bike stuff. My big goal this year is mountain bike nationals, road nationals and mountain bike worlds.”
Simmons, son of Holly and Scott Simmons, said he isn’t sure how he will prioritize mountain bike versus road racing going forward but will use this season to get his feet wet with the road team. He’s also a ski mountaineering athlete and would like to compete again at the 2019 world championships.
“I mean, obviously I would love to do everything,” he said. “I’ve only had one road race, so it’s still pretty early for me. We will see how it goes.”