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The Trek-Segafredo rider raced for the first time since pulling out sick from the spring classics at the Grosser Preis des Kantons Aargau on Friday.
Simmons lines up Sunday for the opening stage at the Tour de Suisse for his first stage race in weeks following a long break to recover from illness that knocked him out of the spring classics.
“It’s good to be back. It was a long break and I am excited to be racing again,” he said in an interview Sunday. “You never plan to get sick for that long or that serious, but what can you do? That’s how this sport goes sometimes.”
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Simmons roared into the spring classics, with strong showing at Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico. He fell ill and went too deep, and could not recover. After three straight DNF’s in the spring classics, he went home to rest.
“I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to accomplish,” he said. “It was a bit frustrating, but all you can do is train hard. I have a busy program from here on out, so maybe the break will do me some good.
“I’ve had five or so good weeks. To take that long off in the middle of the season, it’s almost as if you start from zero again,” he said Sunday. “That’s not ideal, but I am close to where I need to be.”
Hoping to punch his ticket to Tour de France debut
Simmons is on Trek-Segafredo’s long list for the Tour, and is expected to start July 1 in Copenhagen. A strong Suisse tour will secure him a ticket to his first Tour.
“It will be nice to get the legs going again and get some intensity,” Simmons said. “With my coach Stephen De Jongh, I did some really nice base work and I got my weight back to where it needs to be. Now we just fix the top-end and I look forward to the next few months.”
Simmons enjoyed a breakout 2021 season, when he won the overall at the Tour de Wallonnie and finished his grand tour debut at the Vuelta a España, where he rode to third in a stage 19 breakaway.
“We can use this to get ready and maybe you will see me climbing now and in a couple of weeks,” he said. “I want to leave here healthy and with some intensity. The goals are in a few weeks. Now I just preparation.
“Tirreno was supposed to be preparation for the classics, and it ended up killing me, so hopefully it’s not the same.”