Initial disappointment overcome by the realization of his achievement in Stage 19 at La Vuelta
Quinn Simmons almost pulled off what would have been an incredible feat in his first Grand Tour: out of the last corner, Simmons jumped first in the sprint from the breakaway group and looked poised for an incredible win. However, his tactic to go long did not prevent Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo) from overtaking Simmons and grab a third victory in this year’s Vuelta.
Just ahead of the line, Rui Oliveira (UAE-Team Emirates) also passed Simmons, pushing the young Trek-Segafredo rider to third. Not the incredible result Quinn wanted, but still a worthy achievement at the end of a three-week race for the 20-year-old American.
While Cort raised his arms in celebration, Simmons punched his handlebar, his frustration apparent knowing he was so close to victory.
“In the moment, it’s super disappointing, but I think to be able to do that on stage 19 of my first Grand Tour, I think maybe it shows what my capabilities may be in the future – it’s a good step forward,” said Simmons, who’s initial disappointment curbed by the realization of what he had achieved. “Obviously, he was stronger than me today. It’s disappointing after so much workload, but for my first Grand Tour to be able to do that on Stage 19, and I am only 20… I’ll be back.”
The breakaway never had a long leash during Stage 19, and when Team DSM began to chase in earnest to minimize their lead, Simmons took the race in hand with a fierce attack. The breakaway shattered.
“It was hard. We were pretty much flat out from the start, and then we never gained so much time, so it was racing all the way to the line. Some guys were playing a little strange tactics, and I decided the best thing to do was to get rid of them on the climb.
“When I attacked on the last climb, we got rid of the guys who were messing up the break, and once we had seven that were fully committed it was nice because we all knew we had a shot, and no one played any games.
Seven riders regrouped a few kilometers later, but the gap stood at 23 seconds with 20 kilometers to go, and it did not look hopeful for the breakaway. However, the organization returned, and the time difference slowly grew. “With 7kms to go, I knew we would make it,” said Quinn.
A sprint from a breakaway can be hard to predict, especially 19 races into a Grand Tour. Simmons, who was feeling stronger in the 3rd week, stood a chance, but he knew he needed to use his power against the others’ speed.
“The first two weeks, I was not enjoying the race. I came in on really bad form, and it took until the third week now that I am starting to feel okay. I went in the break after the last rest day, and I was climbing better, so I knew I had a chance today,” explained Quinn. “Tactically, I knew I could not match them in speed, and I had to make it a drag race, but unfortunately Magnus Cort was too strong. Magnus has already proved how fast he is twice this race, so I wanted to start in front of him to make a long sprint, and then I have a chance. I had to take that risk and, unfortunately, it didn’t pay off.”
Still, third place after 19 days into your first Grand Tour is something, and that realization replaced Quinn’s initial disappointment.
“Again, I am really happy to be able to do this in my first Grand Tour,” Quinn repeated. “And another positive note, a third of our (USA) Worlds team was in the break, and I think that is a good sign for the coming races.”