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Simmons (center) and Sheffield (right). Photo:...

USA juniors hit their stride ahead of Yorkshire worlds

Quinn Simmons, Megan Jastrab, and Magnus Sheffield all collect big wins ahead of the UCI World Championships.

The future is looking bright for USA Cycling’s junior team ahead of the UCI world road championships.

The men’s national team recently completed a four-week bloc of racing in Europe, that saw the squad take impressive victories in Switzerland and Belgium. Those wins, which came on hilly and technical courses, are a sign that the squad could contend for the victory in Yorkshire.

“It’s junior racing, so you never really know,” said Billy Innes, director of the junior men’s program. “I’m anticipating a good time for us.”

The team for the world championships includes Quinn Simmons, Gianni Lamperti, Michael Garrison, Magnus Sheffield, and Matthew Riccitello.

The team opened its campaign by dominating the Swiss stage race GP Ruebliland, winning three of four stages. Simmons, who earlier this year became the first American to win the junior Gent-Wevelgem, won two stages en route to taking the overall, just ahead of his teammate, Magnus Sheffield. Luke Lamperti added another stage victory in the individual time trial, finishing just ahead of Simmons.

“I knew they’d do well but I didn’t expect that kind of dominance,” Innes said. “We were on the podium every day, Luke won a stage, we swept the time trial, and Quinn and Magnus did really well in the overall.”

The following week the team traveled to Belgium to compete in the Steragas Vlaamse Brabant Classic, a punishing one-day inter-club race, held on a flat and fast course that included multiple trips over a long stretch of cobblestones. Simmons attacked into the breakaway and held on for third in the sprint. The team lost Luke Lamperti, however, who crashed and suffered a broken collarbone.

The team stayed in Belgium to compete in the Keizer der Juniores 2019, a three-day stage race that takes in many of the climbs from the Tour of Flanders, including the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg. During the opening stage, Simmons and Sheffield attacked together on the Kluisberg, just 30 kilometers on the race, and then drove on together for nearly 60 kilometers to the finish. The two crossed the line together, with Sheffield taking the official stage victory.

Simmons then took the lead by winning the stage 2 individual time trial. Sheffield won the final stage, a circuit race around Koksijde, while Simmons held on to take the overall, with Sheffield in second.

The victories came against many of the same riders that the junior men will face in Yorkshire.

“It’s great to be winning at this time in the season,” Innes said.

Jastrab leads junior women into Yorkshire

USA Cycling’s junior women’s program also heads into Yorkshire hoping to earn medals in the individual time trials and road race. The team will be comprised of Megan Jastrab, Ava Sykes, Katie Clouse, Gabirelle Lehnert, and Zoe Ta-Perez.

Jastrab comes in as one of the favorites to medal in both the individual time trial and the road race, having won the U.S. national title in the road race and finished second to Zoe Ta-Perez in the time trial. Jastrab excels on hilly and flat terrain, and has a fast sprint. Earlier this year Jastrab collected a tally of results in major European races. She won Trofeo da Moreno in Italy; finished second at Gent-Wevelgem; and then dominated the Health Aging Tour in The Netherlands, collecting 11 different classification jerseys en route to the overall win.

Jastrab also collected two world titles at the recent junior world track championships. She won the omnium, and then alongside Ta-Perez took the Madison. Both Jastrab and Ta-Perez will race the road race and individual time trial at worlds.