An emotional Steve Cummings has said that his win in the British Time Trial Championships confirms the form he thought he had – and he is now hopeful that he will be selected in Dimension Data‘s Tour de France squad.
The 36-year-old beat defending champion Alex Dowsett (Movistar) by eight seconds in the Isle of Man on Thursday evening to secure his first senior national stripes.
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Remarkably, it was Cummings’s first race since he fractured his collarbone, sternum and scapula in a crash at the Tour of the Basque Country in April.
He was a late entrant to the time trial, with Dimension Data only insisting this week that they wanted to assess the Merseysider’s form to see if he could ride a three-week Grand Tour on the back of a 10 week lay off.
After winning, Cummings went backstage on the podium to cry and then shed tear in a TV interview afterwards. The victory, after a frustrating few months, meant a lot, for it proved his condition is worthy of Tour selection.
“Today is the perfect confirmation of what I was seeing in training and feeling,” he said. “I said in the morning that I would go full gas. I managed to go faster and I was probably better than what I thought. It’s pretty cool to be national champ.”
Cummings, who was joined by his Dimension Data DS Roger Hammond, told Cycling Weekly before the race that being picked for the Tour was dependent on his result in the time trial and Sunday’s road race. Asked what he needed to do, he joked: “There’s no pressure expect I have to win one of them! No, I have to do a good performance, that’s crucial.”
He is confident that he has done enough to earn a place in the South African outfit’s nine-man roster where he is aiming to win a Tour stage for the third successive year.
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“I have to prove myself this weekend because that’s what the team want,” he added.
“Unfortunately, I can’t just say I am ready, I have to prove it. If I am dropped on the first climb [on Sunday] I won’t be in the team. But if I am in the final racing for the win, I might be there.
“My mind is alright. I am confident in the work I have done and the process I have done over the years to get me in shape and to get me results.
“I’m always pretty confident. I am a logical guy; I look at the numbers and what I do in training. But it’s the Tour and I understand that the team wanted to see me race, because three weeks is a long time if you’re not on form.”
As for doing the Nationals double on Sunday? “Of course, why not? I’ll try me best,” he smiled.
Dowsett, meanwhile, was understandably upset at not being able to win a record-equalling sixth national time trial title, and he also doesn’t expect to earn a call up to Movistar’s Tour squad.
“I’m not happy, but I couldn’t have done any more,” he said. “That was probably one of my best rides I’ve ever done at the Nationals – I got everything out. I tore myself apart up the climb and on the corners.
“I’m happy for Steve. He’s a had a rough year and I’m sure he will do the jersey proud.
“I thought he was going to be either really, really good or nowhere. I’ve jumped onto Zwift a few times and knew he had been working hard.
“Steve out rode me, but not by a great amount. It was a good race, a good fight, we had to dig deep. I couldn’t have done a great deal more.”
As for the Tour de France, Dowsett said: “I’ll be surprised if they [Movistar] take me. There’s no team time trial and with two GC guys, they don’t give a monkey’s what I can do in a time trial. I’d have to go as a helper and my team is full of them.”