Fresh from winning the international stage race Keizer der Juniores in Belgium, Quinn Simmons (USA) proved that he is the king of his category as he succeeded Remco Evenepoel to become Junior road race UCI World Champion – America’s third, following Greg LeMond in 1979 and Jeff Evanshine in 1991.
The United States of America became the first nation to claim two UCI world titles in Yorkshire: Chloé Dygert had won the Women Elite individual time trial two days earlier. It was a 33.5km solo effort by Simmons but also a team game as his move was perfectly covered by his compatriots who got a second reward with Magnus Sheffield’s bronze medal, while Italy’s Alessio Martinelli deserved his second place on the podium, having chased the leader by himself in the last 19km of racing.
“I had my eyes set on this since November of last year, so it felt really good to make it happen,” said Simmons straight after his victory. “I wouldn’t say I knew beforehand that I’d win but I had a good feeling about this course, and we had a very strong team. First of all, I want to say a big thanks to all the guys – they were on the front basically from kilometre zero. Magnus set it up perfectly and I found out that he sprinted for third so it’s a perfect day for America.
“We never knew exactly when we were going to go but we knew it was going to be me or Magnus onto the circuit so then I launched from there. I maybe attacked a little earlier than we planned but it seemed to work. I didn’t have the legs I wanted in the time trial so I came in extra motivated for this. I definitely had a point to prove and I think I did. It feels really good to make it happen.”
On Monday, Simmons came fourth in the UCI Junior individual time trial UCI World Championship, behind Italy’s Antonio Tiberi, Enzo Leijnse from the Netherlands and Marco Brenner of Germany, who were all involved in the finale of the road race as well, following a fierce competition in the rain before the weather cleared up for the crucial sector.
Unlike Dygert’s win on Tuesday, Simmons’ victory came as no surprise even for the European riders as he’s been very active and successful there all year, winning the Junior races Gent-Wevelgem in Belgium in March, SPIE Internationale Juniorendriedaagse in the Netherlands overall in May, the points classification of the Tour du Pays de Vaud in Switzerland in May-June, and the GP Rüebliland overall, also in Switzerland, in August before the Keizer der Juniores. In the meantime, he also found time to win the American national championship for the individual time trial.
Before crossing the finishing line, Simmons – who has 12 wins in the 2019 season – grabbed an American flag from the crowd and put it around his neck in celebration, knowing that Martinelli was no longer a threat behind him. Clocked at a 35-seconds deficit at the bell, the Italian finished almost one minute behind, before Sheffield outsprinted Leijnse for third place.
Hailing from Durango, Colorado – a hotbed of mountain biking and home to Ned Overend, one of the first international stars of the discipline – Simmons had been Junior national champion in short-track cross country MTB before his pursuit of glory in road cycling. He has also been one of his country’s top junior ski mountaineering athletes, but it looks like he’s now found his true calling – and a rainbow stripes jersey of Junior UCI World Champion to prove it.