Cummings open to riding Olympics if called up

'I love Kennaugh but you have to pick the guy with the form' says Sean Yates

Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) would need time to consider a call-up for the Great Britain Olympic road race team, should the selection panel reverse their original decision or should one of the selected riders be forced out ahead of the Games.

Cummings was controversially left out of the five-man team, with Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, Adam Yates, Peter Kennaugh, and Ian Stannard all getting the nod.

The Dimension Data rider has had storming season so far, taking four solo victories at WorldTour level, the latest coming on Friday's stage 7 of the Tour de France in the Pyrenees. His initial appeal was rejected and at the start of the Tour de France he told Cyclingnews that he was marked down during the selection process for his commitment.

As a result of missing out he called for the British Cycling selectors and coaches to be replaced, stating that there was a clear conflict of interest in the role of Rod Ellingworth, who also works as a coach at Team Sky, home to four of the five selected riders.

Cummings is first reserve and there are still two weeks left of the Tour with no certainty over how Froome, Thomas, Stannard, Cummings, or Yates – who crashed on stage 7 – will come out of the race. Kennaugh is not at the Tour and is expected to ride the Tour of Poland later this month.

However, Cummings is not sure how he would react if circumstances change and he was given a late call-up. He told Cyclingnews that he would be proud to go to the Games, but that he would need to discuss the matter with the team’s management.

“It’s hard - honestly it really is - because it plays with your mind and your programme,” he told Cyclingnews.

“If I get the call then we need to talk about it. I’m not really thinking about it. If it happens then I’ll think about what I need to do but at the moment it’s a difficult situation.

“I’d have to consider it, of course. It just depends because I don’t want to go to the Olympics for a free t-shirt. I want to go there to do a job. We would have to sit down and discuss what the plan would be and if I feel that I can add something to that, then of course I’d love to go, but if I don’t think it’s the right tactic then it’s better that they send someone else.”

For Cummings part of the issue revolves around what his purpose would be at the Games, and that’s something he would seek clarity over if he was called up. He has argued before that he could be a potential threat if allowed to go in early breaks. With only five-man teams, and such a hard course, Rio will be difficult to control but the British team have studied the course and believe that they made the right selection.

“I go back to what I said at the start; it’s a race with five men and I don’t think it’s wise to pull from the start," Cummings said. "It’s a different race. I’ll stick to that but I’m not the boss and I don’t do the selection. I only hope that if the call comes that we can discuss it.

“My mind, my life, and my programme are set for other things because it’s not on my programme at this point. That’s just the way it is.”

Who could Cummings replace?

Froome and Thomas are set to compete in the road race and time trial and, despite a crash on stage 7, Adam Yates is lying second overall in the Tour. Stannard is seen as a workhorse for the flat roads but Kennaugh's form is somewhat of an unknown after he crashed and picked up an injury at the Tour of California in May.

At the Tour, Sean Yates, who worked with Sky in the past,  told Cyclingnews that “Steve did an epic ride” to win the Tour stage. “He put his statement out there for all to see. There’s no discussion. They should reverse the decision.”

When asked who he would take out, Yates replied: “Who is the guy who has not performed and been injured? It’s Pete Kennaugh. I love Pete Kennaugh but I think you should take the guy with the form. That’s my opinion.”

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