Sun, Jul 10, 2016 - Page 12 News List

Cummings powers to Tour stage win as arch collapses


Team Dimension Data rider Stephen Cummings celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the seventh stage of the Tour de France in Lac de Payolle on Friday.

Photo: EPA

Stephen Cummings on Friday extended the Afro-British domination of the Tour de France by winning the seventh stage in the Pyrenees, but there was a bloody finish when an inflatable arch collapsed.

The 35-year-old’s victory was a fourth in seven stages both for Brits and for the African team Dimension Data, for whom Mark Cavendish had already claimed three of the first six stages in sprint finishes.

“Of all my victories, I think it’s the best one. The Tour is the Tour, it’s special,” Cummings said.

Cummings was part of a 29-man breakaway group before going solo 27km from the end of the 162.5km stage from l’Isle Jourdain to Lac de Payolle.

Italian Vincenzo Nibali, the 2014 Tour champion, launched a counterattack of three riders, but Cummings proved too strong for them and rode away to win his second Tour stage in successive years.

South African Daryl Impey was second with David Navarro of Spain third, both 1 minute, 5 seconds behind.

“It’s brilliant, it’s fantastic. I wasn’t confident in that group with [climbers] Nibali and Navarro,” Cummings said. “I cooked myself actually... Then a 5 to 6 percent climb like Col d’Aspin is good for my characteristics, so I just carried on and I won.”

It was also a great day for Belgium’s Greg Van Avermaet, who was part of the original breakaway and finished fifth to improve his lead in the yellow jersey.

He now leads Briton Adam Yates by 5:50, with Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe just one second further back.

Overall favorites Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana are at 5:57 in sixth and seventh respectively.

“I have to try to enjoy every moment, that’s also why I went full gas today, to keep [the yellow jersey] another day,” said Van Avermaet, who admitted he did not expect to succeed again yesterday.

There was late drama when an inflatable arch indicating the final kilometer collapsed and knocked Yates off his bike, leaving him with a bloodied chin.

The collapsed arch also slowed the progress of the peloton containing the favorites, including reigning champion Froome and Quintana.

The technical malfunction meant that the riders’ times were taken from the 3km to go mark rather than the finishing line.

Although he rolled over the line 73rd and more than seven minutes after Van Avermaet, 23-year-old Yates was given a time of just 3:30 back, crucially enough to take second place and the young rider’s white jersey off Alaphilippe by a single second.

The expected fireworks on the first major climb of this year’s Tour, the Col d’Aspin, never materialized, with two more tough Pyrenean stages to come.

French hope Thibaut Pinot suffered badly on the climb and lost more than three minutes to the favorites.

The 29 riders got away 50km into the stage, which had been ridden at breakneck speed to that point.

The big surprise was that amongst them were both the yellow jersey and Nibali.

Froome’s Sky, with some help from Quintana’s Movistar, took up pace-setting in the peloton, mindful that Nibali, while nine minutes back from other favorites, could become a factor if given too much leeway.

When the break crept up to almost six minutes — giving Van Avermaet an 11-minute overall lead on the road — the peloton reacted decisively.

However, about 35km from the finish, the lead group started splintering, with four riders going clear at the front and another eight forming a chase group.

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