Cummings: Best way to respond after Worlds snub was to carry on

'It's almost like I get more respect from Italian people,' says British rider

Steve Cummings put the disappointment of missing out on selection for the World Championships behind him with a fine win on stage 1 of the Giro della Toscana.

The win was Cummings' first outing since the Worlds, where he was deemed surplus to requirements for the road race but good enough to be first reserve for the time trial. He eventually turned down the ride in the TT.

The double British national champion's Toscana win came from a small group containing multiple Grand Tour champion Vincenzo Nibali and he now leads the race heading into stage 2.

"It's always hard to win but I'm very happy. Today's win brought me a lot of satisfaction because it's always really hard to win," Cummings told Cyclingnews on Tuesday evening.

"When we were doing the big circuits there were a few little hills in but I was being the policeman because we came into the stage looking to help [Mark] Cavendish. The climbs were a little bit harder than we thought and when Nibali went I had to follow. The last smaller circuit was pan-flat and there wasn't really a launchpad. I wasn't really sure about the end because I've not done a sprint since about 2008."

'It doesn't matter how I win or what I win, it's never enough for some'

When Cummings crossed the line he was immediately asked by the gathering Italian press as to why he had not been in Bergen.

The Dimension Data rider struggled to find the right answer but admitted that he had watched the entire men's road race and was almost in tears when he saw how the course suited him. Winning in Toscana was not a shot across the bows aimed at British Cycling, however, and Cummings stated that his hunger to win came from his own desire to taste victory.

"I really wanted to win before the season ended, both for my body and mind and my team," he said. "The season hasn't gone as well as it could have but I've always kept fighting. At times this season, physically I've been as good as ever. Now there are good races for me coming up, but the riders are really good so we'll just have to wait and see. I think I'm running at around 95 per cent but I need to find another five if I'm going to feature in a race like Il Lombardia.

"I was emotional after the win. I was being asked why I wasn't selected and really I didn't have a good answer for them. I don't know, it's almost like I get more respect from Italian people. I think they understand me more sometimes. The British system is very successful but it's also very clinical at times and I'm maybe a bit more open. I do the race like I see it. Sometimes it feels as though it doesn't matter how I win or what I win, it's never enough for some."

Tuesday's win "wasn't really about proving a point", he added.

"The win wasn't about the Worlds. It was about me just riding my bike and wanting to win. That's something I take into every race where I feel there is a chance. I already proved in Canada that I was in good shape. Personally it was a shame not to be selected for Worlds but the best way to respond is just to carry on."

The British team in Norway had a respectable ride, with Ben Swift taking fifth place in the bunch sprint. Cummings admits that he would have been a long-shot for the win in Norway but added that he could have played his own card, and been a team player if called upon. 

"I had a day off on Sunday and watched pretty much every minute of it. I thought it was a great race, the British team did well and Swift had a super day. Fifth was a really good result.

"For me it was course that would have suited me. It was a reduced group and I could have maybe played around in the finale and if that didn't work there would have been the chance for me to flip back and do something for Swift or whoever else. Having numbers in the final is important. All I can do is race my bike and at the end of the day, I'm just a bike racer. I like to play my own card if I feel there is a chance, but I'm more than happy to help the team at the same time."

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