Steve Cummings’ wins are better than everyone else’s

2016 Tour de France, stage seven

They are. They just are. I don’t need to justify that statement. It’s just manifestly true.

Steve Cummings’ Tour de France stage win last year when he soared past Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet as if they were standing still is Exhibit A, but he’s ploughed through plenty more of the alphabet since then. He floored his rivals on a stage of Tirreno-Adriatico and then followed that with a wonderful ah-what-the-hell win during the Tour of the Basque Country.

Today he went in a mega-break, ditched all 28 of the other riders, and then held off Vincenzo Nibali, among others, on the final climb.

God, I love Steve Cummings.

How does he do it?

One of the reasons why Cummings is able to deliver these wins is because he is massively indulged at Team Dimension Data. He did a bit of work for Mark Cavendish yesterday, but that is very much out of the ordinary. By and large he is a man apart, riding at the back of the peloton and doing absolutely sod all to help his team-mates. He does that for a week and then the minute he moves from that position, you know he means business.

Steve is currently a bit pissed off because he’s not in Britain’s Olympic road race team. He reckons there’s an element of bias in his non-selection with Team Sky coaches selecting Team Sky riders in his place. He thinks that Britain needs someone to ride off up the road rather than someone willing to do donkey work. Maybe he’s right, maybe he’s wrong, but from a spectator’s point of view, I wish he’d been included.

Deflations

The other eye-catching event during the stage was the 1km to go airbridge thing deflating and blocking the road. Apparently it had something against Adam Yates as it took him out.

The other great deflation was of French hopes with Thibaut Pinot losing three minutes to the favourites. He will not be winning this year’s Tour de France.

Yellow jersey

Highly irregular, but Greg Van Avermaet actually got in the break. This is normally impossible for the yellow jersey as anyone keen to win the overall will chase them down. However, everyone’s utterly blasé about Van Avermaet’s chances, so it didn’t happen and he gains a few more minutes and possibly an extra day in yellow, depending how stage eight goes.

Speaking of which…

Stage eight

The monstrous Col du Tourmalet (19km at 7.4%) plus three more punishing climbs are on the all-you-can-eat menu. A really tough day. A few more riders may well join Pinot in the definitely-not-a-winner category after this.

Delicacies of this region include piperade and “hen in the pot”.

2016 Tour de France, stage eight