Tour de France

TDF stage win bred confidence - Cummings

2016-07-09 12:13
Stephen Cummings wins Stage 14 (Twitter)

Lac de Payolle - Stephen Cummings said new-found confidence was behind the Indian summer to his career after claiming his second Tour de France stage victory on Friday.

The Briton is nearing the end of his professional career at 35 but last year he won his first stage on the Tour with a smart ride on stage 14 to outwit French duo Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet.

This season has been his best with stage victories on prestigious week-long races the Criterium du Dauphine, Tirreno-Adriatico and Tour of the Basque Country.

But his solo victory on Friday's seventh Tour stage after a 162.5km ride from l'Isle Jourdain to Lac de Payolle topped the lot.

And he said his victory at last year's Tour proved crucial in giving him the self-belief that he could claim high-profile victories.

"That was the dream. Last year for a while after I didn't know what to do, I was lost for months," said Cummings, who rides for African team Dimension Data, who have now won four of the seven Tour stages this year after British sprinter Mark Cavendish's hat-trick.

"Then, when I understood what it was that I did, I wanted to do it again.

"It also gave me the confidence to believe in myself."

Cummings watched back the video of that victory several times to inspire him to try his luck more often.

Back then, he was not considered to have much chance of winning that stage due to a steep ascent just before the finish, and the presence of strong climbers Pinot and Bardet.

But as they played a game of cat-and-mouse, Cummings streaked past to snatch victory.

"I don't like to watch it but I have to watch it because it gives me the confidence of what I can do because I'm not the most confident person," he added.

Cummings paid tribute to his team for letting him off the leash.

"Dimension Data have given me the freedom, the support and the belief -- it's kind of spiralled.

"I've always had talent but if you're in the wrong team or... with a GC (general classification) rider, it's hard to get the opportunity."

His victory also went some way to getting over the disappointment of not making the British Olympic team for Rio.

"The Olympics is the Olympics. They made their selection.

"Am I over it? As an athlete you just deal with it and move on from it."

He wasn't the only person celebrating on Friday as Belgian Greg Van Avermaet kept hold of the race leader's yellow jersey, extending his advantage.

The 31-year-old came fifth on the stage and is now almost six minutes clear of the bunch.

But with four categorised climbs to come on Saturday, the cobbled classics specialist dismissed his chances of keeping onto the coveted jersey.

"Tomorrow I will try to keep it but it's impossible, I think," said the BMC rider.

"If you can have an extra day in yellow, you go for it. Everyone wants to wear this jersey once in his life.

"Tomorrow will be hard but I can enjoy it maybe more."

Italian Vincenzo Nibali, the 2014 champion, showed he was starting to find his legs by getting in the breakaway, before cracking on the final climb in the Pyrenees and finishing fourth.

He lost nine minutes on the overall contenders on Wednesday as he paid for his efforts in winning the Giro d'Italia in May.

"Day by day I feel my legs are coming back and I'm getting better," he said.

Read more on:    tdf 2016  |  cycling


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