Cummings quietly confident despite no wins yet in 2017

Dimension Data rider waiting in the wings at Pais Vasco

Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) has yet to take his first success of 2017 but the Briton is quietly confident that an opportunity for him will come at some point.

It's not just recent history that is on Cummings side. Fourth in the last time trial in Tirreno-Adriatico confirmed his underlying condition is solid. Last weekend Cummings checked out the route of the Pais Vasco's 27 kilometre time trial and he will try his best there. Beyond that, it's a question of seizing the opportunity for success when it comes.

Last year Cummings run of victories was so consistent it almost seemed that all he had to do was turn up at a race to win. He took stage victories in Tirreno-Adriatico, País Vasco, the Dauphiné, the Tour de France and the overall of the Tour of Britain.

And so far in 2017? "I don't feel that I've clicked so well this year yet," Cummings says, "but it's hard to say why. I think it's just a question of confidence and a matter of time. Being patient and it'll come."

"The form is good, I've been really consistent and I have a huge base again. But ultimately it's about the race and in Tirreno, I was kind of a bit passive, and the last hours of the stages were a bit more chaotic than usual, almost Classics-style."

"But obviously, having said that, I did a really good final time trial. It's just about getting the right opportunities."

País Vasco could provide that, even if it has a radically different - and easier - route to previous years, with the exception of stage five's traditionally ultra-hilly route and the ascent of the Arrate.

"I love this race, but again, it's all about being switched on, keeping the concentration. It's almost harder for me now to win in a week-long race, though, than in a Grand Tour, where there's more opportunities within it."

He doesn't think though, that being more of a marked man than in 2016 makes that much of a difference to his success rate. "People are more aware of me for sure, but a lot of the times I won, it was because I was strong, not for any other reason."

His best day in 2017, so far, was "towards the back end of Tirreno where I started to feel a bit better. Up the Terminillo, I thought I could go full gas and maybe get the top ten on the stage at most, and I wasn't super-motivated with that and thought I'd go in the break."

"So the next day, bang, I was in the break, but it was a strange stage, because normally you'd think it'd go to the finish and it didn't. That's the chance you take, you end up with nothing. But still, I did a good TT two days after."

"I was good in Milan-Sane Remo, and I had a plan, but in hindsight, it wasn't, maybe…the wind direction changed a lot, it was the worst for someone like me, it was headwind towards the coast which made it really easy in the [main] group, and then it was tailwind along the coast, which meant we were going really fast over the climbs. So I wouldn't like to say it was an easy San Remo, but it was frustrating, I was never able to get into a position at least to follow a move. And all round it's been a little bit frustrating so far."

His planned program, for now, will be very similar to last year, with the Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege followed by the Dauphiné and the Tour de France.

"A result, or just a good day, would change everything but it's not the hardest Pais Vasco I've seen, everybody's still fighting on GC as a result."

"The Arrate will be a big test for me and on paper the time trial suits me, the climbs aren't too steep. I think the steepest points on the climbs are eight or ten per cent, so it's a power course, my kind of distance, and maybe I could do something, bring the time back a bit. Although I'd say [Vasil] Kiryienka (Team Sky) is the favourite, for sure. But I'll be taking it on the day by day." And looking at his past results, a win is surely not too far away now.

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