In the year of years for British cycling, the men in black of Team Sky have tended to dominate the column inches. But while the limelight may have focused largely on the achievements of Messrs. Wiggins, Froome and Cavendish, another Briton has been quietly putting together a solid campaign of his own – Steve Cummings of BMC.
Already a stage winner at the Vuelta a España, Cummings brought the curtain down on his campaign a the Tour of Beijing, and he capitalised on his rich vein of form by out-pacing Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) to take victory in the final stage in Pinggu on Saturday.
After two seasons at Team Sky, Cummings joined BMC at the beginning of 2012, and he acknowledged that he had felt a discernible difference in tone at his new team.
“I think there’s a difference,” Cumming told Cyclingnews in Pinggu. “BMC is less like a business and more like a family. If you go through a difficult moment, they’re quite understanding and they’re very supportive. It’s not just like cutthroat like Sky maybe.”
An Olympic medallist on the track for Great Britain, the Wirral native seemed like a natural fit for Team Sky when it formed in 2010. After beginning 2011 with a fine stage victory at the Volta ao Algarve, however, Cummings contracted pneumonia in April, and when his contract expired at the end of last season, he left the British squad to move to BMC.
A fractured pelvis at this year’s Volta ao Algarve threatened to derail Cummings’ season before it had really began, but when July came around, he was part of the BMC selection for the Tour de France.
“They always stuck by me and they kept giving me a good race programme,” Cummings said of his team. “They understand in cycling that sometimes things are out of your control. You get sick, you get injured and your form is what it is because you can’t train or whatever.”
The experienced Cummings spent a season at Discovery Channel in 2007, where the team manager was one Johan Bruyneel. The reasoned decision of USADA’s doping case against Lance Armstrong was published during the week and the 1,000 page dossier describes in rigorous detail the systematic doping programme that Bruyneel had overseen at US Postal, the forerunner to Discovery Channel.
“I haven’t read the report, it just makes you feel sick,” Cummings said. “It was pretty depressing. Like I say, I haven’t read the report, so it’s difficult to comment, but it was pretty depressing.”