Steve Cummings topped a huge season with another Tour de France stage win today along the Lac de Payolle and put behind the disappointment of not making the British Olympic team for the Rio de Janeiro road race. Success in the Tour is bigger than the Olympics, he says.
The English Dimension Data cyclist attacked to join three men who went from an earlier 29-man escape group and he went solo at 26.9 kilometres remaining, ahead of the Col d’Aspin and the seven-kilometre descent to the Pyrenean lake.
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The win, his second in the Tour after last year’s in Mende, comes just two weeks after Great Britain over-looked him for its road race team. Cummings criticised the large selection of Sky riders and a conflict of interest with Rod Ellingworth coaching for both the team and British Cycling.
“They made the selection so I’m over it,” Cummings said. “As an athlete, you just deal with disappointment and move on to the next thing.
“It’s a blessing in disguise, I came to the Tour de France because this is the biggest show and race on earth. If you can have success here for a pro bike rider then I think it’s much bigger than any Olympics Games. I’m just delighted the team gave me an opportunity here.”
Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, Pete Kennaugh, Ian Stannard and the Adam Yates, who races for Orica-BikeExchange, will form the British five-man road team.
Cummings rode for Sky and BMC Racing before joining South Africa’s Dimension Data team ahead of the 2015 season. He gave the team its first Tour win last year in Mende when the team, then still a UCI Professional Continental team, debuted in the race via a wildcard invitation.
This year, the 35-year-old has had his best season yet with a stage win in Tirreno-Adriatico, one in the País Vasco, one in the Critérium du Dauphiné and now, another one in the Tour.
On the Col d’Aspin, his gap hovered between 20 and 50 seconds to a group with Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) and Daryl Impey (Orica-BikeExchange).
“I was cooking on that climb, I thought Vincenzo would come back. At one point, I thought, I’ll wait and try to get him in the sprint, but then you just keep going,” Cummings added.
“I was just on the limit the whole way up the last climb. It was difficult. It was horrible, actually. I was worried they would come back, Nibali would come by like Marco Pantani and I would’ve never come back. It wasn’t just about him, but the other riders. You just have to feel and make decisions and commit to what you need to do.”