Cummings’s role had been to bring teammate Edvald Boasson Hagen to the finish in a position to compete for the sprint from a reduced main pack of approximately 40 riders.
The man from the Wirral was attentive and chased every attack, never taking a turn on the small groups as he was marshalling the moves for Boasson Hagen, much to the frustration of Team Sky‘s Salvatore Puccio who had attacked time and time again.
Team orders changed and Cummings launched his winning move with 3.4km to and soon had a gap. His attack was assisted by arguments over who should chase, and the British rider went into full time trial mode.
Once he went under the 1km to go marker the win was never in doubt.
Earlier in the day, a four man breakaway of Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Argon 18), Manuel Bongiorno (Bardiani–CSF), Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida) and Ricardo Vilela (Caja Rural–Seguros RGA) had over 5-30 on the peloton at the peak of their escape. Not wanting to hang around while his break companions were caught, Conti went solo and almost held a two minute gap over the charging peloton.
The gap dropped below one minute, causing the race vehicles to come out of the gap, at which point Pim Ligthart (Lotto-Soudal) attacked from the front of the main pack. The young Dutchman’s move soon came unstuck, and shortly after Conti was drawn back into the peloton.
Movistar moved to the front and set the pace on the Trevi climb before Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) came through and put in a huge turn.
Watch: Steve Cummings’s win down to strong strong teamwork, says Dimension Data DS
With 14.8km to go, two riders attempted to go clear but Cummings brought them back on a descent.
After multiple attacks and counter-attacks from the reduced main group, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) stretched his legs with 8km to go, but the other riders were alive to the danger. Next to have a go was Puccio and although he gained a gap the rest of the group was back together before the 5km to go marker.
Tirreno-Adriatico 2016, stage four
1. Steve Cummings (GBr) Dimension Data, 6-04-49
2. Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky, at 13 secs
3. Natnael Berhane (Eri) Dimension Data
4. Dani Moreno (Esp) Movistar
5. Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale, all same time
6. Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale, at 16 secs
7. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff, at 25 secs
8. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing
9. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
10. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx-QuickStep, all same time
Overall classification after stage four
1) Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx-QuickStep, 15-56-32hrs
2) Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing at 9 secs
3) Greg van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing, st
4) Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing, st
5) Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx-QuickStep at 11 secs
6) Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx-QuickStep, st
7) Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff, at 14 secs
8) Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, at 18 secs
9) Sebastien Reichenbach (Sui) FDJ, st
10) Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff, 20 secs