Steve Cummings (Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka) put in a huge performance on stage 12 of Tour de France, as he went on the attack early on and was only caught by the top favourites in the closing kilometres.
With its 214.5 kilometres and six categorised climbs, yesterday’s big mountain stage in the Pyrenees was set to be one of the most challenging stages of this year’s Tour de France. However, the profile didn’t scare Cummings who made it into the early breakaway after a very fast start to the day.
Cummings and his 11 breakaway companions worked well together but as the riders started on the steep climbs, the front group began to split up. Ultimately, only Cummings and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) remained at the front.
With three kilometres to the top of Port de Balès, Cummings decided to go solo. The British national champion dropped De Gendt and took on the whole peloton in the difficult mountainous terrain.
As Cummings started on the penultimate climb of the day, Col du Peyresourde, he had 2:10 minutes on the group of favourites chasing behind. However, as Team Sky upped the pace and the gradients started to get extra steep, the gap quickly came down. Cummings fought courageously but with 8.5 kilometres to go, he got caught by the overall favourites.
At the end, Romain Bardet (Ag2r) won the stage, while Fabio Aru (Astana) moved into the overall lead of the race. Serge Pauwels crossed the line in 18th place as best Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka rider. He’s now 26th in the general classification.
Cummings finished the day on the podium as he was awarded the combativité award for this impressive performance on the stage.
”From the beginning, Serge [Pauwels] and I tried to be at the front,” said Cummings. “Ultimately, I made it into the front group and it was all good. I felt I had the breakaway under control but I still can’t control what happens behind me. Unfortunately, they wanted to chase today. However, the legs are good. I will try again”.