Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) used his ride to stage 7 victory in the Pyrenees at the Tour de France to erase his disappointment and anger at not being selected for the Great Britain road race team for the Rio Olympics.
Cummings firmly believed he deserved a place in the Team GB quintet and vented his anger to Cyclingnews on the eve of the Tour de France. A week on and with the Tour de France finally on terrain more suited to breakaways, Cummings was able to sweat out his anger with every pedal stroke as he worked in the break of the day and then attacked alone on the Col d'Aspin.
"The Olympics is the Olympics but I'm over it now, as an athlete you learn to deal with disappointment. It's a blessing in disguise being in the Tour de France, because this is the biggest bike race on earth, much bigger than any Olympic Games, I'm just grateful my team gave me an opportunity here," Cummings said with his usual modesty.
"The experts have made their choice, so it's up to them. If I think what I've done in the last and if I don't get a pass to Rio, then it's okay now, no problem. I'll go to the Vuelta and try to win a stage there."
Cummings has won stages in WorldTour stage race he has ridden this season, yet the mild-mannered Briton admitted that he often doubts his own ability. He outwitted Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bart to win in Mende on the testing uphill finish. This time his victory came after a far bigger solo effort and he had far more time to celebrate and savour his success. After a moment of thought he admitted that this win, the 13th of his 11-year pro career, was his best.
"Perhaps it is possibly my greatest win. The Tour multiplies things so many times but every win as a pro is important because they aren't easy. I really needed a win, I didn't just want it. I haven't felt super so far in the Tour, I never really do on the sprint stage but the moral in the team was super high and that helped me," he explained calmly.
"Last year was the dream, for a while after winning there I was honestly thinking ‘what do I do now?' I was lost for months, then when I understood what I had done, I wanted to do it again, which also gave me confidence," he said.
"I'm not the most confident person, but now I have a little video collage I watch when I'm not feeling so sure. The team also believes in me, which is really important. My training is always the same, my weight is always the same, I do things very simply, If you like, I've found a formula. I can't say when I will win, it might be here, might be in the Vuelta, but I know I can win."
Cummings admitted that he was worried that Vincenzo Nibali would come back up to him on the Aspin and that his chance of victory would disappear.
"I didn't have to try too hard to get in the break then it's always about numbers," he explained. "I saw that some teams had several riders in the big move and so just waited. Then I decided I had to go before the Aspin to get time on the climbers."
"I think it was a good strategy but I was cooked on the climb and thought Nibali would come back. I even thought at one point that it was better to wait for him and then get him in the sprint, but you just keep going. I was on the limit all day, it was difficult, it was hard, but you just commit to the decision you make. I played my cards in the finale as well as I could."
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