The numbers approve: Quinn Simmons seems to be ready for Strade Bianche
We’re approaching Strade Bianche, so this is the perfect moment to put Quinn Simmons’ preparation into numbers. We had a chat with the Trek - Segafredo rider about the Italian gravel race and some other interesting topics.
Let’s start with his winter. He trained most miles in America, his favourite training place. Simmons started training again the 1st of November, after a break of a month. An interesting fact to demonstrate how big of a talent Simmons is to start the analysis: The 20th of November, he did 3x 10 repetitions of 40 seconds on, 20 seconds off intervals. So we get three 9’40” intervals (without the last 20” off, because those 20” are neglectable). He did the first 9’40” at 465 watts, second interval at 482 watts, third one at 484 watts.
The fact that he did the intervals at 850m-1050m altitude, which does have a little influence on the watts and the fact that he did those watts while doing 40s/20s, means he definitely could’ve done at least 500 watts for 10’ if he did steady intervals at sea level. Crazy effort after barely having 3 weeks of training in the legs and after a break of a month.
Now let us take a look at Simmons’ most interesting personal bests (PB). The first thing that stands out is his sprint. A lot of people probably underestimate Simmons’ sprint. He did the 30” sprint test on the 8th of December. If you look at the Strava file from that day, you can see that he actually “only” sprinted for 26 seconds, in which he did 1200 watts, which makes it even more impressive. You might think “He probably did that super fresh, after a rest day and a perfect warming up”. That’s not true. He did the sprint after 6 hours (5000kJ) on the bike. The day before the test Simmons did an interval session that intense that he threw up. It’s fair to say he didn’t start the 6 hour ride with fresh legs either.
Another PB that stands out is his 1’ power, which he definitely needed in the San Juan stage he won at the end of January. He almost matched his 1’ PB from training there, doing 804 watts for the last minute to take the dub. His 5’ power also really stands out. He got that PB while doing a race with his teammates on training camp on the 20th of December. His 20’ and 30’ PB’s are also really good, but less surprising for his profile. For the 1 hour PB he obviously didn’t go all out for the full hour so we can neglect that one.
Simmons compared to Campenaerts
We can compare Simmons’ totals from the winter with Campenaerts’ totals. That gives some interesting facts. The first thing that stands out is that Simmons trained a full 62 hours more than the Belgian, while they started training again at about the same date. We already know that Vocsnor thinks a lot of pros train too much, but this still is a very big difference. Another interesting thing is that Simmons rode less time in zone 1, but more in zone 2, so we can conclude he did his endurance rides a little more intensively.
If we look at the zones in which you do intervals, we can conclude a similar thing. Simmons did more tempo and threshold, but less vo2max, while the 2 riders have almost the same goals. This demonstrates how different teams still do different training and how there still are gains to be found in that aspect. When we asked Simmons about his winter, he says he had a “quite ok” winter. The only slightly negative thing is that the racing in San Juan was so easy and the travel to it took so long, he has the feeling that the trip to Argentina set him back a bit, but he still thinks it was a nice experience.
Next, let us analyse the races he already did in 2023. His stage win in San Juan has already been mentioned, so let’s go straight on to the Alto del Colorado. The young American pushed 400 watts or 5.2 W/kg for the last 35 minutes. This effort was done at a very high altitude (2000+ meters) so it’s hard to compare it to other efforts. His 10th place as a 76kg rider doesn’t lie though. In the last stage he rode away with Remco Evenepoel, doing 434 watts for 12’32”, but they couldn’t avoid a sprint.
On to the Ardèche - Drôme weekend. His result in Faun-Ardèche might not look good, but that doesn’t tell everything about his race. He worked for Skjelmose, as there were just too many altitude meters in the race for Simmons. While he worked for the young Dane, he still held on for a long time and didn’t drop until 26 km to go. A good tempo/threshold training with the eye on Strade. In Faun-Drôme he raced for himself and got 5th place, impressive result as there were 1250 altitude meters packed in the last 60km. A hard weekend like that is a perfect preparation for Strade Bianche a week later (compensation). Simmons likes the 2 French races as they are always hard, thus a good test of the legs.
An American in Tuscany
Simmons has been at the start of Strade Bianche twice. In Strade 2021 he was present in the first group with Van Aert, Van der Poel, Bernal, Gogl, Pidcock, Alaphilippe and Pogacar, but then got a puncture with a little less then 40km to go, ruining his chances for the day. He then also crashed out of the second group, because Gianni Vermeersch crashed in front of him. Very good legs, very bad luck. Who knows what could’ve been possible that day for the at the time only 19 (!) year old American.
In Strade 2022 there was a big crash. Anyone who doubts Simmons’ bike handling skills, should rewatch that crash. The way he avoided it was amazing. Simmons was 2 positions behind Pogacar when he attacked, but he just couldn’t follow him, which isn’t strange if you see how the Slovenian won that race. Simmons was very active throughout the whole final and ended up with a 7th place. Conclusion? Simmons has never disappointed in Strade Bianche.
This year, he hopes to improve his result in comparison with the previous years. He realises it isn’t an easy task, surely because he states that he’s not yet at the level at which he was in the 2021 and 2022 Strade Bianche. He’s also a bit heavier than previous years, but this doesn’t stop him to fight for a strong result. The additional weight can also mean his punch improved, which isn’t a bad thing in the Italian race.
Faster thanks to the beard
Other interesting insights are that Simmons likes to do really intensive before race days, even on a rest day in a grand tour. On Friday before the Faun-Ardèche Classic for example he did 578 watts for 4’21”. You don’t see a lot of riders digging that deep the day before a race. Simmons does so because he already learned his body performs better when it is a bit fatigued. When he’s too fresh at the start, his legs seem to shut down a bit.
In 2023 Simmons wants to be keep his top shape longer. We’ve already seen him doing a lot of great things, also in other races than Strade Bianche, but it’s always been for a shorter period. This is something he wants to change in 2023. The fact that he’s not yet in the 2021 or 2022 shape, will maybe help him to perform on his level during the whole classics season. Something else that might help him, is his beard. Simmons jokes: “The beard makes me 4.2 watts faster!”.
What some of you might not know, is that Simmons’ brother, Colby, is also a cyclist. He definitely shares the talent with his brother as Colby is currently riding at the Jumbo-Visma Development Team. Quinn expects him to put another step forward this year. He thinks his brother will become a decent pro and hopes to see him in the WorldTour already next season.