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Simmons, 21, attacked out of a dwindling peloton inside the final kilometer, and then held off the charging sprint trains to take his first victory of the season.
“I made one promise to the team this year and that was to win more races, because last year I didn’t win any,” Simmons told media after the win. “Now I’ve gone 100 percent better.”
The win marks Simmons’ first victory since 2021, when he won a stage and the overall at Belgium’s Tour de Wallonie. But Tuesday’s victory came against top WorldTour pros like GC leader Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe), Fernando Gaviria (Movistar), and Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies).
The 170.9km stage started and finished at the Autodromo de Villicum, an auto racetrack north of San Juan. The route looked perfect for the sprint trains — a flat opening 140 kilometers followed by a gradual climb back to the finish. But the action-packed finale saw attacks and crashes delay the push to the line.
With 5km remaining Simone Bevilacqua (Eolo-Kometra) attacked, and soon after a crash in the peloton slowed the bunch, delaying the chase. Eventually, the group roared to life and made the catch inside 2km to go, but the effort seemed to sting everyone’s legs. A lull inside 1km allowed Simmons to launch his decisive move.
The American charged away from the group as Max Richeze (Team Argentina) gave chase. Simmons’ initial gap seemed in peril as Richeze gradually clawed back space as the track twisted toward the final straightaway. Both men then appeared to be targets for the gallop as the sprinters opened up inside 200 meters to go. But Simmons stood out of the saddle and charged up the final gradual rise to hold off Richeze and Bennett by a whisker.
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