Simon Carr could not have started his season better.
Simon won his first race of 2024: the Trofeo Calvià on Mallorca. That win set the tone. Simon wants to make this year his best yet. Now 25, he still believes he has what it takes to win a grand tour. We caught up with Simon to talk about his life as a pro, building model airplanes, his photography, and how he has learned to ask for help.
Congratulations, Simon. It must feel good to start the year with a win.
It feels really good, especially coming off winning Langkawi last year. This winter was smoother than any other winter I have had as a pro in the past, so now I can really show what I can do, instead of just catching up all the time.
Did you do anything differently this winter?
Not really. I just kept it real simple and trained well, ate well, recovered well, and got good sleep. That was all there was to it. For me, as long as I am just training consistently, I can get to a really good level. Maybe in the future, we will tweak some things to get that extra couple percent, but so far just being consistent has been enough to win some races, so hopefully we can just carry on with that in the years ahead.
How have you progressed as racer so far in your career?
I was pretty pleased with last season. It was a step forward. The year before had been a bit of a setback, so last year was really satisfying to get some wins for the team. I feel like I am making progress. I had one win before in 2020, and then didn’t win in ’21 and ’22. Last year, I won four races, and that was pretty cool. The first at the Tour of the Alps was a bit of a relief. I had gone two years without winning, and that week I was in the break almost everyday. At the beginning of the year, I had been in some breaks where I was the last guy caught, so I was like I have to win soon, so to do it I was relieved. That was a cool one. I was really happy to win the second one in Occitanie too. That was my home race. It was cool, because my parents and my brother had come to watch that and I was not far from home. We were not exactly on my training roads, but roads I had race on as a junior and stuff, so it was quite special, a nice day really.
Were the other highlights from last season?
Langkawi was a really nice race, so obviously to win that. Those were really the highlights, because between those wins there were a few times when I was struggling a bit more and had some illness and a couple of crashes as well. It wasn’t all ups. What I am especially proud of is that I was able to bounce back quite quickly. I would have a bit of a setback and then come back and get some results. That is what I was most happy with.
What are the most important things you have learned in your career so far?
You have got to be resilient, but the main thing that helps with that is to have a good support system with people in the team, but also family and friends. People in the team want to help you—some at the races and some day in and day out, like the coaches and DSs, and then you have the equivalent of those at home too. You have a masseur at home that you go and see or an osteo who can give you good support and motivation. I’ve learned to rely on others more and maybe just be a tiny bit more laid back and able to trust other people to do stuff for me a bit more, in the races too, so like relying on the team more in terms of positioning and stuff. I can now trust one guy and follow that guy, which in the past maybe wasn’t in my nature to do. I preferred doing things myself or researching things myself. I think that is the main area that I have progressed in. I am able to take more input from other people and ask for help when I need it.
You’re 25 now. The younger riders on the team are going to start looking up to you.
That is a bit strange really. I guess I am getting towards my peak physically, so that is the big goal, to really make the most of that. For sure I am not one of the youngest on the team anymore, so that is kind of motivating in a way, to realise that your career is not that long, but I don’t know how much of my ability as a rider is down to natural, call it talent or ability and how much of it is down to actual knowledge of cycling. I feel like I am learning a lot myself, so I don’t know how much I’ve got to teach. For sure, there will be things in races that I probably take for granted now that I do and then maybe if see them doing something then it is going to be obvious for me, but I am sure that I will have some input to give them. But maybe they will be like I was and won’t want any advice!
What are your ambitions for the coming season?
Just to carry on and win another few races. A bigger one would be really nice. I have won some nice races now, but not any in the WorldTour, so that is the ambition for this year. I should have the calendar to do it, and I know I have got the legs to do it, so it is just a matter of putting myself in the right positions and putting it together on the day. I want to do the Giro and think there are going to be lots of opportunities there for me to get in breakaways to try and win stages. That is the big goal and before that I would maybe like to go for a GC in one of the smaller stage races. Long term, I still think I have got the physical ability that I could win a grand tour. I think that has got to be the goal still. In 2022 I kind of got further away from it and last year I think I came closer again and I think I just need, not so much confidence in myself, but other people to have confidence in that again. I need to show that I can go towards that. That is still the ultimate goal, I would say.
What do you think of our roster?
We have a few more young riders this year, and then a few old guys. It is a bit of a different atmosphere this year than last year with the younger guys, which is nice. It has been good to get to know them. I am guessing some of them are going to be pretty good, so it is going to be interesting to see how they go.
Where is home these days?
I’m still in Andorra and spend the majority of the year there. My girlfriend is also riding. She will be racing gravel this year and will be up there a fair bit training, but also away occasionally racing. Other than that, my parents still live a couple of hours away in France. I often go stay with them. I am building a house down there to have a home base in France. It will be really nice to be close to them. My brother is actually building a house next door to me in France. We grew up in a tiny village and this is closer to the big town, Carcassonne. I would say that France is more home to me. The UK always feels a bit foreign when we are there. I still feel British, but I don’t feel at home in the UK, so I think that part of France is just home. From a training point of view, sorry if this is something people say a lot, but they are just the best roads that you can train on. You have everything you need for training there, flat roads, long climbs, but also just really quiet roads. You can literally ride for four hours and see four cars, which is amazing.
What do you get up to when you are not cycling?
I just bought a camera and go for walks every day and take some photos to give me something to do when I am out there. I like hiking. I like my cars too, but am not really working on any at the moment. Right now, I am driving a Toyota Supra. The old ones were pretty iconic—the ones from the 90s—but this is a newer one, but I really enjoy driving it around. That is one of the reasons to get a place in France. In Andorra you are just living in an apartment with no outdoor space. I would like to have a garage and maybe a place to eat outside, like I had growing up where I would just go down into the garage and work on bikes while my dad, who is really into motorbikes, would be working on his bike down there. I was really into building Airfix models when I was a kid. I had airplanes, tanks, soldiers—all military stuff— and then I would make papier mache boards and make them like the D-Day landings. I just bought them on eBay at the time. I would go and look for the cheapest job lot. At one point I bought 80 bi-planes, so like with the double wing from the World War I era, and my old bedroom is full of those. Some of them are unbuilt. I kind of want to do a few of those. I have occasionally done one and it is really relaxing. It takes a few days and you have to wait for the glue to go off and you have to paint it and stuff so those are the main things I like to do.
Tell us about the beard.
It is a bit of a sad story unfortunately. My granddad always had a beard and he passed away just before Langkawi. It was not something I had really thought about, growing a beard, but I was like let’s see how it looks and it looked alright, so I am keeping it for now. I joke with my parents that it is like my grandad’s beard reincarnated. There are a couple on the team now. Juanma has one. James has one. I think I inspired James. He told me in Japan at the Japan Cup that he was going to grow a beard in the off season, because mine looked good. Maybe he was joking, but he has got a beard now.
Thanks, Simon. Good luck with the coming races!
Simon Carr was raised in the shadow of the Pyrénées in the south of France. His Welsh parents had moved there when he was a small child, so he would have the chance to spend his youth in the countryside. He started cycling on an old mountain-bike they had lying around their home and did his first races at his French public school. His family spoke English at home, but otherwise Simon’s upbringing was French.
He wasn’t very good at trials or downhill at first, but did very well in endurance cross-country. Soon, the nearby mountains lured him onto the road and he joined a local club. He wanted to dance up cols in the Tour de France.
After some great results as a junior, Simon made the move to the World Tour with EF Education-Easypost in 2021. He finished his first grand tour, the Giro; won the young rider’s classification at his home stage race, the Tour de Occitanie; and had a great ride at the Strade Bianche, where he finished 11th. He backed that up with a number of strong rides in 2022. Last year, Simon earned four big wins, with victories on stages of the Tour of the Alps, Tour de Occitanie, and Tour of Langkawi, where he also won the overall title.
In the future, our young French-British climber hopes to win grand-tour mountain stages and classics such as Liêge-Bastogne-Liêge.
Question & answer
What’s your first cycling memory?
Losing my favorite (only) bidon that I was holding while riding in a child seat behind my dad. I can still remember the exact spot and the bidon sliding out of my hand and into the long grass on the outside of the corner. I returned to the location many times to look for it, all to no avail.
What do you love the most about cycling?
The freedom to explore, the time to think, and the competition.
What is your favorite climb?
Col de Pailheres (Mijanes side)
If you weren’t a professional cyclist, what would you be?
A Formula 1 driver
Coffee or tea?
Both, drip coffee or French press in the AM, infusion in the PM after dinner
@EF Education First – Cannondale