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African team rules the roost with another TDF stage win
- Updated: July 8, 2016
Seven stages into the 2016 Tour de France and Africa’s Team Dimension Data are in seventh heaven.
The first day into the mountains produced a fourth stage win for a team outshining their global counterparts in the world’s greatest bike race.
Steve Cummings won the 162.5-kilometre stage that ended in Lac de Payola as he added to teammate Mark Cavendish’s three sprint victories as the tour closed in on it’s first week.
And the sun shone even brighter on African cycling as 2012 Olympian Daryl Impey showed his form ahead of the Rio Olympics in just over a month’s time by grabbing second spot in the Orica-BikeExchange outfit.
Cummings was always in the mix and finally went solo for the last 27 kilometres, including the daunting Col D’Aspin climb inside the last 20km.
It was Liverpudlian Cummins who grabbed Dimension Data’s first ever TDF stage win on 18 July last year, on Mandela Day.
And he had reason to be cheerful after being overlooked for the British cycling team for this year’s Olympics. ‘That was sweet. After what has already happened this week, it is just fantastic to have won.
‘Of all my victories, I think this has to be my best one. I wasn’t confident in that big group and putting pressure on them, I thought, was my best option.
‘The Aspin is also a climb that suits my characteristics. The group behind was obviously on the limit so I just carried on, as you do, and I was able to win.
‘I’m really happy for the team and thankful that they believe me. I hope that people are really starting to get that we are racing to put kids on bikes with Qhubeka, it just makes everything that much more special for us and has put the team on a high.’
The Col d’Aspin was a 12km category 1 climb that topped out 7km before the finish in Lac de Poyolle. The odds were stacked against Cummings as he was alone, being chased by 12 riders who were just 30 seconds behind him when the Aspin began. Everybody thought Nibali and Navarro would be able to bridge the gap to Cummings, and they tried, attacking on the very lowest slopes of the Aspin. Cummings held a consistent pace though and he was totally committed to the move.
In the end, Cummings even put time into his closest chasers on the Aspin. With the peloton still four minutes down on Cummings as he began the descent to the line, he just needed to stay upright to take an incredible victory.
Cummings was able to do so with ease and the Brit was even able to savour the moment, crossing the line just more than a minute ahead of Impey. Another unbelievable day for the African team.
Saturday’s stage offers no respite at all on the 183km slog from Pau to Bagneres-de-Luchon. Four climbs, all above 1500m altitude, lie in wait, including the notorious Tourmalet at 2.115m. In terms of sheer intensity… this is the stage of the tour.