Another of Steve Cummings’ patented stage wins
When I wrote about Steve Cummings’ Tirreno-Adriatico stage win a few weeks ago, I said of his modus operandi that he “just cycles past everyone on the flat.” This was based on his magnificent 2015 Tour de France stage win being delivered in much the same manner.
Exhibit three: the third stage of this year’s Tour of the Basque Country. With a kilometre to go, a Cofidis rider (no idea who and don’t particularly care to find out) launched himself off the front off the peloton. Watching the footage, you can see the effort this requires. He’s out of the saddle, hauling the bike around with all his might. But who’s this cruising up behind him, seated and untroubled? It’s Steve Cummings of course.
In classic Cummings style, he pulls into the Cofidis rider’s slipstream for just a moment before thinking ‘sod it’ and steaming straight past. A this point – there’s no other way to put this – he just rides away from everyone.
Is he leading the race overall?
No, is he bollocks. When Steve Cummings isn’t doing his riding-away-from-everyone-at-the-front thing, he likes to spend his time hanging around right at the back, chatting to people. He is therefore not naturally disposed to fighting out a stage race, day after day. He’s currently 39th, which is behind even Frank Schleck.
The leader is Mikel Landa. Now with Team Sky, Landa, who is Basque himself, won stage two and currently holds a one second lead over Wilco Kelderman. One way or another that will change, because the Tour of the Basque country is basically just an endless battery of hills. Even the closing time trial is up and down (actually down and then up and then down and then up).
Other notable riders to watch include Alberto Contador in fifth, Thibaut Pinot in sixth, Nairo Quintana in eighth and Fabio Aru in 15th. Unusually, Britain’s Yates brothers were also aiming to do well in the general classification for once, as opposed to chasing stage wins as has been their general policy up until now. It hasn’t gone that well so far. Simon is currently top Yates in 24th, 52 seconds adrift. Adam is 30th, over a minute down.
But back to Steve Cummings for a moment
Because I want to finish with this magnificent photo of our man wearing a daft Basque hat on the podium.