Team Sky confident in Cummings ahead of Besseges' hillier stages

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Steve Cummings will be Team Sky's ace in the coming days of the Etoile de Besseges stage race. Following a quiet first stage in the French race, Team director Marcus Ljungqvist singled out Cummings based on his recent fourth place in the GP Marseillaise.

"The team is looking towards Friday and Saturday, when the days will be a little bit harder - small climbs, up and down," said Ljungqvist after yesterday's stage one. "Steve is showing great form and the whole team is looking good."

Stage one of Besseges from Le Grau du Roi ended with Slovenian Borut Bozic (Vacansoleil) winning the sprint and Brit Daniel Lloyd (Cervélo TestTeam) crashing into a tree. Lloyd reported that X-rays confirmed no fractures, but he will likely be a non-starter today. All seven Team Sky riders completed the stage within the same time as the winner, Bozic.

"We were trying to keep everyone at the front because it was a flat stage," Ljungqvist continued.  "The big thing was to keep everyone together and not lose any time.  We don't have a big sprinter here, but we can try a little bit with Pete Kennaugh and Sylvain Calzati."

Ljungqvist's eyes are not on the sprints, but on Friday's stage three to Bagnols sur Cèze and Saturday's stage four to Ales. Stage four finishes with three 7.1-kilometre circuits with a 250m climb mid-way. Stage five, starting and ending in Ales, is even more relentless with two category one climbs.

"Saturday will be the big day for everyone, on paper," said Ljungqvist, "and a lot will depend on the weather."

The weather forecasted in southern France for the next three days is 10°C and a chance of rain. Ljungqvist should have plenty of opportunities to play his ace.

Related links

Lloyd safe after Besseges crash, likely out of race

Lloyd in hospital for check following Besseges crash

Cummings and Kennaugh contest Etoile de Besseges

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.