Power Analysis: Quinn Simmons’s world championship ride in Yorkshire
How does an 18 year-old who’s only been racing road for a year and half become world champion? And not by luck or chance, but by dominating the entire field, riding away from 119 of the best juniors in the world, and soloing 31 km to become the first American man to win Junior World’s since Jeff Evanshine won the race in 1991?
Today we analyze the power file from Quinn Simmons’s world championship-winning ride in Yorkshire. We also spoke to Simmons about his training in the lead-up to the race, and include a detailed look at his preparation for the big race.
Height: 1.85 m (6’ 05”) Weight: 72 kg (159 lbs.)
6 weeks before the World Championships
Coming off an altitude camp with Bora-Hansgrohe, Simmons returned home to Colorado and decided to race the Leadville Trail 100. This grueling mountain bike race has over 12,000 feet of climbing and begins and ends in Leadville, Colorado which sits at 10,000 feet. Simmons trained as usual in the week preceding Leadville, using the race as a long, hard endurance day.
In a field of thousands, including professional mountain bikers and WorldTour riders, Simmons finished 2nd in the Leadville 100. The crux of the course is the Columbine climb, averaging over 8% for 7.4 miles, and topping out at 12,500 feet. After puncturing multiple times in the opening third of the race, Simmons was minutes behind the leaders when he started the climb. But he never gave up, and climbed to the top faster than WorldTour riders Peter Stetina and Lachlan Morton.
Simmons averaged 325 W (4.5 W/kg) for 54:15 on Columbine. While these numbers don’t seem staggering, remember that this is at 10,000-12,500 feet altitude, and the bulky Simmons climbed faster than the rail-like figures of Stetina and Morton. Simmons continued to fight his way to the front, and inside the final miles he caught the group battling for second.
Simmons’s race ended in a sprint, which he won handily, averaging 677 W for 37 seconds and hit a max of 1394 W. For the race as a whole, Simmons finished with a Normalized Power of 307 W for 6 hours 24 minutes and 5924 kJ of total work. All at an average elevation close to 3000 meters altitude.
Leadville 100 MTB
Columbine climb: 5:45
Avg. Power: 325 W (4.5 W/kg)
Final sprint: 37 seconds
Avg Power: 677 W
Max Power: 1394 W
Full race: 6:24:00
Normalized Power: 307 W
Total Work: 5924 W
Five weeks before the world championships
Before heading off to Europe, Simmons put in a huge week of training at home in Durango. He rode 460 miles and climbed more than 33,000 feet in 23.5 hours of training.
The biggest ride of the week came on the Sunday before he left for Europe. Simmons rode for over six hours, completing 127 miles. This ride was not dissimilar from his race at Leadville, which had been several weeks prior. Simmons’s Weighted Average Power for the ride was 279 W, and he did over 5100 kJs of work. Just over a month away, the 92-mile Junior world’s road race appeared easy compared to this monster training session.
Four weeks before the world championships
Simmons tapered back his volume this week to 322 miles in just under 16 hours, still an impressive amount for a rider who just turned 18 in May. With plenty of training volume in Simmons’s legs, he focused on race-specific intervals.
Simmons and his coach, Jim Miller, focused on 2-5 minute efforts during Simmons’s high-intensity interval sessions. The goal of these sessions was to help Simmons achieve his dream: to win the worlds road race with a solo move.
Simmons and Miller predicted winning solo would require massive, short-term bursts of power to get away from the field, and then a long, more sustained effort to the finish. In the pre-world’s races with the USA National Team, Simmons practiced attacking from as far out as he could, and still hold the effort to the finish.
Three weeks before the world championships
Simmons dominated the Grand Prix Rüebliland Junior 2.1, finishing 2nd, 1st, 2nd, and 1st in the stages. He won the final stage solo by nearly a minute, finishing with a Weighted Average Power of 354 W (4.9 W/kg) for nearly three hours. For the last 20 minutes, Simmons averaged 390 W (5.4 W/kg) and 28.6 mph.
Two weeks before the world championships
Next was the Keizer des Juniores 2.1, the last race before the worlds in Yorkshire.
Once again, Simmons dominated the stage race, placing 2nd, 1st, and 3rd on the stages. The first stage turned into a 60 km two-man team time trial for Simmons and his teammate Magnus Sheffield. The impressive effort was a harbinger for how the worlds road race would eventually play out.
On Stage 2 Simmons did one of the fastest individual time trials by a junior, averaging 32.42 mph (52.17 kph) to win by nearly 20 seconds. The speedy ride required an immense amount of power. He averaged 449 W (6.2 W/kg) for over six minutes.
One week before the world championships
With just a few days left until the world’s time trial, Simmons did not have much training to complete, just a few short efforts on the TT bike before heading to Harrogate and dialing in the course.
Simmons rode to 4th place in the Junior Men world’s rime trial, missing the podium by just seven seconds. It was a disappointing ride for Simmons, who had dominated junior racing and time trials in the previous few months. He had quite an off day, averaging just 347 W for 38 minutes over the rolling course.
Based on past performances, this effort was, conceivably, something he could have held for upwards of three hours. Even on the long climb of the day – the same used in the Harrogate finishing circuits – Simmons was only able to hold 412 W for the four minutes, which, while impressive, was far from his best.
The day after a disappointing time trial, Simmons simply spun his legs for an hour to recover. The day before the world’s road race, Simmons rode two laps of the finishing circuits in Harrogate with the USA National Team. He completed no openers or springs, opting to save his legs for the road race.
The world championships road race
The Americans dominated the junior men’s world’s road race, putting their team on the front for the long climb of the day, Hill End.
But before that was the steep climb of Cray Hill. At over 100 km to go, it was unlikely to be decisive (but not impossible; just ask Annemiek Van Vleuten). Nevertheless, the junior men flew up the climb, and Simmons averaged 506 W (7.0 W/kg) for over six minutes on the climb’s steepest section.
On Cray Hill, the Americans took the front and shredded the field with a huge effort. Simmons averaged 400 W (5.6 W/kg) for the duration of the climb, and did 436 W (6.1 W/kg) for the first six and a half minutes. Over the top of the climb, a group of five formed, containing Simmons and Sheffield.
At 34 km to go, Simmons attacked on the Oak Beck climb. Again, he averaged over 400 W for eight minutes, but it was his surge out of a wet right-hand corner that got him the winning gap. Peaking at 724 W, Simmons then held 418 W for the next five minutes to the top of the climb. A few miles later, his gap to the field was nearly one minute.
During the final laps of the circuit, Simmons kept his average power well over 400 W. With one and a half laps to go, he began the circuit’s long climb again, this time going even harder (465 W for four and half minutes) than the previous lap.
His gap to the field continued to grow, and inside the final lap it appeared obvious that Simmons’s dream of a solo win was at hand. Still, Simmons continued to surge out of corners at 800-1000 W, and climbed every hill over 440 W all the way to the finish. With second place nowhere in sight, Simmons crossed the line and became junior world champion, turning his dream into reality.
Quinn Simmons’s worlds road race:
Distance: 148.1 km
Average Power: 289 W
Max Power: 1298 W
Normalized Power: 384 W (5.3 W/kg)
Winning Attack: 49:56 (NP: 419 W; 5.8 W/kg)
Special thanks to Quinn Simmons and Jim Miller for their contributions.
Sources: Quinn Simmons Strava