Skip to main content

Cummings hits out at Ellingworth and British Cycling after Olympic snub

Stephen Cummings (Dimension Data) on his way to winning stage 7

Stephen Cummings (Dimension Data) on his way to winning stage 7 (Image credit: Courtesy of Polartec-Kometa)

Steve Cummings has called for Rod Ellingworth to be replaced as Great Britain’s road race coach due to a ‘conflict of interest’ between his role for British Cycling and his duties at Team Sky.

Cummings was controversially left out of Great Britain’s Olympic road team, with the five available slots going to Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, Peter Kennaugh, Adam Yates and Ian Stannard.

Yates is the only non-Team Sky rider to make the team and Cummings, who has won stages in the Critérium du Dauphiné, Tirreno-Adriatico and Vuelta al País Vasco this season, has told Cyclingnews that he was penalised by the selectors due to his levels of ‘commitment’. He has already lodged a failed appeal in an attempt to reverse the decision.

“I think we need a new coach because of a conflict of interest,” he told Cyclingnews.

“That’s my opinion and maybe I’ll never ride for GB again but if that’s the way it is, then that’s the way it is. If you win the races I’ve won this year, in the way I’ve won them, and you don’t get picked then you might as well say what you think.

“I criticise the coach. I criticise the tactics, I criticise the selection criteria, and I criticise British Cycling.”

When asked if he was surprised by the selection, the Dimension Data rider added that “it’s not really a surprise when the Team Sky coach picks the team. I think the selection criteria just comes down to opinion, doesn’t it. It’s the Team Sky coach's opinion.”

Ellingworth, who orchestrated Mark Cavendish’s world championships win in 2011, had told Cyclingnews back in January that Cummings was “like Geraint and he is in the mix for both the time trial and road race. A strong rider and someone we would consider.”

Cyclingnews contacted both Ellingworth and British Cycling and they replied, stating that: “The decision on who is nominated to represent Great Britain for major events is made by a selection panel. The panel consider recommendations from coaches but the coaches do not make the nomination decisions.

"It's testament to the strength of British Cycling's road team that riders with the calibre of Steve Cummings have not made selection for the Rio Olympic Games. Whilst obviously we understand that Steve is disappointed not to have made selection, unfortunately there's only a finite number of places on the team and the selectors have the difficult decision of tactically deciding who will make up the team most likely to be medal competitive in line with the challenges of the course."

'It's mathematics'

Cummings believes that he could have added another dimension to a team in race that is typically hard to control and even harder to predict.

“It’s just someone putting numbers in a box. This guy is good at this, this guy is good at that, but it’s just rubbish. It’s political. I had a conversation with Rod, he picks the team, and that’s his team,” he said.

“Everyone I’ve spoken to comes up and says ‘fuck I’m sorry you’re not in the team’. It’s a genuine disbelief so it’s not just me thinking that I’m hard done by. It is what it is.”

According to Cummings, he was marked down on ‘commitment’ but he refuted the idea in and stark terms laid out his case for making the team.

“They marked me down on commitment. I asked why and they said that they needed to think what if it rained. Then I said that it snowed in Liège [Bastogne-Liège] but that I was still there in the final. Basically it’s an opinion. They mark you on physical, tactical, and whatever so you put the number down how you want to make sure he comes out with more points than the other guy. You question my commitment but then I question the commitment of the guy who stopped in the Tour de France last year.”

Without knowing the exact criteria Ellingworth and his team used to determine the final team it’s hard to definitively know what the best Great Britain team would look like. Froome and Thomas have also been selected for the time trial, leaving just three additional places for the road.

Cummings, who is unquestionably enjoying an Indian Summer in his career, believes that he has done enough.

“I think you have look at the characteristics of the riders, of the course, what your tactics will be at an Olympic Games and if you’re asking me what team I would take then I would pick a rider like me, 100 per cent.”

He also pointed to the tactical nature of the Olympic Games road race, which is often a cagey and unpredictable affair. The British team fluffed their lines in 2012 on home soil, while in 2008 they simply didn’t have the calibre of team to compete with the best on the road.

“I think that the Olympic Games is a very open race. If you sit behind and pull then they [GB] will end up in the situation they did in 2012. You have to send riders up the road and who better to send up the road than me? It’s doesn’t mean I have to collaborate. I could just sit there and say I’m waiting for Froome but that works better for him. If thirty guys go up the road then you’ve got four pulling against thirty. It’s mathematics.”

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1