After two straight years of success, Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) ended the Tour de France without a stage victory, and such are the Briton's high standards that he felt downbeat and disappointed, despite making a rapid recovery from a crash at the Tour of the Basque Country in mid-April that left him with a fractured collarbone, scapula and sternum.
Cummings spent hours on the home trainer in May and then on the bike in June, determined to be fit for the Tour de France in order to try for a stage win for the third consecutive season. He won both the British time trial and road race title to secure his place in Dimension Data's line-up. He then got into the breaks on the few occasions that Team Sky, the sprinters and the peloton loosened their grip on the race.
However, this year things did not go Cummings' way.
"I did my best, I always tried. I'm disappointed now but after some weeks I'll probably feel better," Cummings said, acknowledging that he is a harsh judge of own results and performances.
"We have to realise that I only started riding my bike back on the road on May 28. I did an hour and couldn't bend my arm, so I have to be realistic. I think my form is quite good, the last few days I have suffered a lot with my back after the crash. I was really sore and it was exaggerated with the time trial.
"I raced well in the Pyrenees, I was close. But there's only been two breakaway stages this year. Perhaps I'm a little bit rusty in a race, too. When you're in a race, you see who is moving well and who isn't, and I haven't been able to see that.
"You don't win Tour stages by luck. Ultimately, you have to be super strong to even have a chance of winning. Edvald Boasson Hagen won and has been up there often but it's six years since he last won, which is incredible. That shows you what it takes to win a Tour stage."
Falling apart but racing on
The Tour de France ends in Paris but the professional season continues and Cummings confirmed he will be in action at the Clasica San Sebastian on Saturday, despite saying he was "falling apart" and "needing rehab" due to the weakness in his arm and the effects it has had on the rest of his body.
"I've got a lot of pain in my arm and in my other arm because I'm holding my bars differently. I'm falling apart, I need some rehab," Cummings said.
"I never thought I'd not make Paris. I wanted to reach August and know that I had done everything I could. And I have. There's still a lot of racing to do. Hopefully, this has given me a good platform to finish off the season well."
Cummings will ride the Cyclassics Hamburg race, the Bretagne Classic – Ouest France (formerly the GP Plouay) and then defend his overall victory at the Tour of Britain.
He is due to meet new British Cycling Performance Director Stephen Sparks to clear the air regarding his role in the national squad. Cummings hopes to be part of the Great Britain team for the world road race championships in late September. The rolling course in Bergen, Norway could suit his aggressive style of racing.
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