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Quinn Simmons relishes return to winner’s circle after lost 2020 season

Simmons wins for first time in nearly two years ahead of stacked summer to include debut grand tour, world championships, Paris-Roubaix.

Victory was a long time coming for Quinn Simmons, but that made it taste all the sweeter when it finally arrived.

Simmons’ Tour of Wallonia win Thursday was his first victory in almost two years. It comes as a timely mojo boost ahead of a heavy late-season stretching from the summer sun of the Vuelta a España through to the cobblestone autumn of Paris-Roubaix.

“It has been almost two years since I won at the junior worlds in Yorkshire – what a relief,” he said after kicking past Stefan Dewulf in the Belgian race. “I’ve waited two years for this win – it makes sense that I am genuinely really happy about this.”

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Simmons had roared into the world’s sight with his victory at the rain-sodden Harrogate championships in 2019 and was soon sucked up to the WorldTour by Trek-Segafredo.

Then only 18, Simmons suffered a difficult rookie season stoppered by the COVID shutdown, and a suspension due to his use of a Black hand emoji on Twitter and what his team described as “divisive, incendiary” comments.

Simmons believes he’s rectified the errors he made in his rookie season as he rushed to match the muscle of the WorldTour peloton.

“That corona year was not good for me,” Simmons told Wielerflits on Thursday.

“I made a lot of mistakes in my training. Everything was new, too. I took on too much weight. I wanted to become a different rider than I was, to immediately measure myself against the specialists in the classics. But as far as the condition now is concerned, I’ve learned from my mistakes.”

Simmons showed glimpses of the prodigious talent that had seen him step from junior ranks to WorldTour at this year’s Strade Bianche. He punched his way into the star-studded lead group before punctures and crashes saw him fall out of contention. The luck wasn’t there, but the legs sure were.

“I worked hard last winter with my coach,” Simmons said. “Strade Bianche showed promise for the first time, but then I literally dropped out of the leading group. It was perhaps my biggest sporting disappointment to date. But I was able to show a flash of my talent there.”

Simmons will now go all-in to defend his slender GC lead in Belgium this week. The five-day Wallonie race will set him up for a stacked summer as he continues to find his feet at the WorldTour level.

“Next week I will start in the Tour de l’Ain,” he said. “Then I make my grand tour debut in the Vuelta a España, then the world championships and Paris-Roubaix.”

It’s still uncertain whether Simmons will race the U23 or senior worlds this September. But for now, all he wants to think about is that long-lost winning feeling.