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Quinn Simmons wins an unexpected green jersey in Tirreno-Adriatico

Durangoan scores his first World Tour jersey
Trek-Segafredo cyclist Quinn Simmons celebrates after winning the green King of the Mountain jersey at the Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy. (Courtesy Trek Segafredo)

Behind stage wins and overall victory there are specific classifications to fight for in multiday races that award prestigious jerseys to its winners.

The Best Young Rider, Points and Climbers classifications are competitions within the race and offer thrilling battles. To win a jersey is honorable. To win one in a World Tour race even more so.

But how do you win the climbers’ competition with a physique built for the Classics? Durangoan Quinn Simmons, who races for Trek-Segafredo, never set out to win the green jersey in the Tirreno-Adriatico. That would seem unrealistic, even for a young gun on good form.

“The KOM jersey was definitely not a goal at the beginning of Tirreno and even the day in which I took it,” Quinn said. “We came here basically to support Cicco (Giulio Ciccone) and to look for good chances to win a stage, and when I went in the breakaway in Stage 4, that was the goal. The jersey came a bit by chance. I thought it would be nice to be on the podium in a World Tour race like Tirreno. Then, together with the team, we realized that trying to keep it was a good idea. We had not really much to lose in trying.”

Durangoan Quinn Simmons, left, leads a small group of riders on during a breakaway on the sixth stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico Saturday. (Courtesy Trek-Segafredo)

The breakaway Quinn joined in Stage 4 earned him green when he grabbed enough points over the climbs. Afterward, he admitted, “It’s not where I thought my first jersey would come. But over the first climb, I realized that there had not been so many points up to this point in the race, so I thought if I got all of them, maybe I would take the jersey. I have never worn a jersey in a World Tour race before, so you’ve got to start somewhere.”

Quinn collected enough points and a trip to the podium post-race. But that was one day, one breakaway.

Ahead, mountain climbs loomed, notably in Stage 6 with two “out-of-category” uphills – the most challenging rating in climbs. How the heck do you beat the mountain goats – the uphill specialists that weigh some 20-30lbs less – over these?

Answer: Go in the breakaway again.

A motivated Simmons found the breakaway in Stage 6, never an easy task in itself, and then bettered his breakaway compatriots and held off the chasing group full of lightweight GC contenders on the steep Mont Carpegna.

“It takes a lot of effort to get my weight up climbs like the ones we found at Tirreno,” Simmons said. “Especially (Saturday) on Carpegna. It was quite hard. At the same time, it was motivating to climb having fans again on the road cheering for you. It was definitely a new experience because normally, my position in the peloton in stages like this is behind or in the gruppetto. I tried something new, and I’m happy I did it.”

When Simmons crested Carpegna, alone and in front, mathematically, he had won the green jersey. He still had to make it to the finish line and again safely on the final day to officially claim it, but compared with his monstrous effort to win green, these were easily achieved.

“I know this appears a bit strange to see me with this jersey. It was hard, but I’m really proud of it; it’s a nice surprise,” said Simmons about his first World Tour prize. “It’s my first World Tour jersey and a nice gift at the end of the race, something I did not expect coming in. It was a good week.”

Road to Classics paved

Winning green was not on his list of goals and an unexpected result, and now Quinn has his eye on his big targets, the upcoming Classics that suit his strengths.

“In my schedule, Tirreno was the best way to prepare for the Classics,” Simmons said. “I’m happy with how the legs are feeling after these efforts. Strade Bianche was a good start, then Tirreno an important step in my growth. With my coach, we made some changes in my winter preparation and really focused to improve my climbing a bit, especially in view of Strade Bianche, which was a goal for me. I’m a bit skinnier than I’ve been before and a bit more than some Classics riders, but I think I took a good step in view of the Classics.”

“I’ll skip Milano-Sanremo this year because I feel I need 10 days to take a break-in view of the cobbles. Last year, my first Classicissima, was a nice experience. For sure it’s a race I want to do again in the future and maybe even target it.

“I’m happy for my start of the season and I think the Team is too. My teammates racing in Paris-Nice, Mads (Pedersen) and Jasper (Stuyven), above all, showed to be on form and hungry for the coming races. I’m already excited.”

Simmons won the KOM with 35 points, followed by the top two finishers in the general classification – the race’s overall winner Tradej Pogacar of UAE Team Emirates with 25 and runner-up Jonas Vingegaard of Team Jumbo-Visma with 15. Ciccone finished 10th in general classification, Simmons finished 63rd and Sepp Kuss finished 68th.