Simmons over the rainbow, Quinn finds gold
Just as it did in 2015, the Men Junior Road Race got underway in Richmond; albeit this time it was the North Yorkshire town and not the capital of Virginia.
However, it seemed no one remembered to tell Team USA that they weren’t on familiar tarmac as the American group of riders looked extremely comfortable on the roads of Yorkshire throughout the day.
It was thought that the first part of this race would be a gentle roll into the Dales, but a nervy start saw Andrea Piccolo (Italy), one of the early race favourites, break a wheel and USA rider Michael Garrison take a spill; amidst a few other slight crashes.
Both the British and American teams pushed hard from the front and a breakaway formed earlier than the predicted Kidstones climb. Originally made up of two riders the group had grown to ten.
As the Kidstones climb approached, a 3.9km ride with a max gradient of 11.3%, Walker had been joined by a handful of riders, but the interesting story was originating back in the peloton where the American riders Michael Garrison and eventual winner, Quinn Simmons had set a heavy pace at the front of the peloton with Simmons even screaming ‘let’s go’ to his team to really put the pressure on.
Magnus Sheffield (USA) and Lewis Askey (GB) broke free of the peloton but by the climb at Summerscales, the full group was back together.
The American riders had a gameplan in mind and were fully committed to executing it and Simmons and Sheffield engaged time trial mode, a mode known all to well to Team USA after Chloe Dygert’s spectacular showing earlier in the week, and went clear off the front with around 35km to go.
Just 2km later and Simmons went on a solo attack and many thought it was potentially too soon, despite his strong showing and eagerness to push on. This would turn out to be a foolish assumption as the Colorado-born rider stormed further and further ahead, opening up a 39 second advantage ahead of the chasing Alessio Martinelli (Italy) – it became apparent towards the closing stages that, bar some bad luck, these riders would take first and second respectively.
The battle for third place was just hotting up though, time trial silver medallist Enzo Leijnse (Holland) rode clear of the peloton before being joined by Gianmarco Garofoli (Italy) and another monster effort from Magnus Sheffield saw him rein in the group too.
It was an effort that would be sustained and rewarded as Sheffield thrust his way over the line to take bronze and joined his compatriot Simmons in his celebrations.