Quinn Simmons praises his teammates in helping him achieve his first professional victory at the Tour de Wallonie
The first professional victory is a milestone in a rider’s career and Quinn Simmons had to wait two years to get his, thanks in large part to a year disrupted by a pandemic.
In Stage 3 at the Tour de Wallonie, Simmons finally made good on his achievement when a five-rider move with teammate Juan Pedro Lopez was caught in the closing kilometers and he quickly countered – an attack that was one of many in an action-filled ending. This time, it proved successful.
Stan Dewulf (AG2R Citroën) tagged onto the move by the young American, and the pair worked together to hold off a small chase group. Simmons did not have to play cat-n-mouse on the climb to the finish; he simply unleashed his sprint early. Dewulf fell off his wheel, giving Simmons a long-awaited and very sweet first pro win.
“It’s my first pro victory, and for sure the first pro win is a big one,” agreed Simmons. “It’s been a year and a half now as a pro, and to finally make it happen is a big relief. It took a while, and I was starting to lose faith in myself. But you saw how the guys rode today – it was perfect.
“Everyone did his job pulling hard from the beginning, and Juanpe (Juan Pedro Lopez) was super strong in the finale. It’s been quite a while since I played a finale; the last time I won a race was the Worlds in Yorkshire two years ago. It’s nice to get the emotion back.”
How it played out
The hills arrived in the Tour de Wallonie and Trek-Segafredo, after patiently waiting through two flat stages, was ready to play.
The team kicked off the action in the final 50 kilometers, pushing the pace over the climbs with Jakob Egholm, Antonio Nibali and Alex Kirsch each taking his turn setting a harsh pace.
Under the Trek-Segafredo force, it was not long before the three-man breakaway was reeled in. Simmons pulled the first blow with a searing attack over the top of a climb with around 27 kilometers to go, drawing out a group of seven riders, including teammate Lopez.
The reaction was swift from behind, and within a few kilometers, the peloton caught the escape group, but it set off a series of attacks that continued to the end.
“We took control 60k out almost,” explained Simmons. “Alex (Kirsch) really ripped it on the climb, and then I had Juanpe with me to attack that first time. When we got brought back, we thought it was almost over, but the whole team was super strong; we were almost in every move.”
On the penultimate climb, a group of five moved clear with Juan Pedro Lopez again in the mix. It was looking like this might be the winning move seven kilometers to go, but still, the group came back.
And then Simmons jumped.
You saw in the finale we had both Juanpe and me there, so we had two cards to play, and he was going super strong on the climbs. And with two of us in the finale, you’d better not lose. I was able to make it on the downhill, and I almost forgot how to play a finale; it’s been nearly two years since I did it right.
Belgian rider Dewulf went with Simmons, and the two opened a sizeable gap to four disorganized chasers.
In the final kilometer, it was obvious the win would come from one of the two and Simmons was confident with a climb to the finish.
“When it’s a sprint after this many climbs, I am pretty confident,” Simmons said. “When it’s on the flats, I don’t stand a chance, but this is more my kind of sprint, so once the two of us were there, I knew it was game over. It’s never easy to win, but with the way the team rode and set it up for me to do my job was really straightforward. Thanks to the team, it was as easy as it could come.”
Quinn Simmons and his Trek-Segafredo team now have the leader’s jersey to defend with two hilly stages remaining.
“More work cut out for the boys and myself to protect it and we’ll just see what we can do,”added Quinn. “But the week is already a success now. Everything else is a bonus.”