Steve Cummings and MTN-Qhubeka are back in the saddle after a successful Tour de France. Cummings, starting in the Vuelta a España this week on the Costa del Sol, welcomed his stage 14 win at the Tour but realised that it can be stressful.
Cummings swooped in on two late French attackers Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), caught them by surprise and won the Mende stage in the Tour’s second week. The victory, on Nelson Mandela day, was the first ever in the Tour for the South African team.
In southern Spain, far from the sometimes-maddening Tour, he had time to reflect.
“It changes things a bit when you win a stage. It’s just quite stressful. It’s a lot to take in,” Cummings told Cycling Weekly on Monday morning ahead of the Vuelta’s third stage.
He never had such media attention before when working for stars at Team Sky or BMC Racing. With the win came invitations to lucrative post-Tour criteriums. His race, though not officially, continued in Belgium, Luxembourg and, back to France, in Pau.
“I did five, but it was back to back, and I had two days’ rest after the Tour, then five criteriums. It was just the travelling as well. Some days, I had two flights and then a criterium in the evening. I rented the car and drove, as well. It’s quite enjoyable, but tiring,” he said.
“I enjoyed it, but in a way it’s the last thing you want to do because you just want to spend some time with your family, but you can’t really not do the criteriums.”
Though the exact sums are unknown, it is reported that stars like Chris Froome can earn five figures for one criterium. Cummings, would have made less, but did not say how much.
“It was just nice, carrying on the celebration from the Tour… People are so happy to see you and it’s nice.”
Cummings did have some down time with his family afterwards. He also spent it preparing for another Grand Tour, this time in Spain. His aim, just like in France, to win a stage.
“The first thing for me is to try to feel good, to try to get the back pain out. I pulled a muscle in my back a week before. It’s feeling better and better day by day,” he added.
“I also got sick, I had to take antibiotics. I had a chesty cough. It’s not wise to come in to go super deep, you have to get all the mucus out of the way. I just need to get that confidence first.”
Perhaps due to the relaxed Spanish feeling on the Costa del Sol, Cummings failed to notice that his team and most other cyclists had cleared the bus parking to begin the stage. He stopped talking and sped to the start line to continue his successful, but sometimes stressful, 2015 season.