Tour de France: Steve Cummings wins as Chris Froome extends lead
MTN-Qhubeka rider claims breakaway victory on stage 14
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 19/07/15 6:10pm
Britain’s Steve Cummings produced a stunning late surge to claim a shock win on stage 14 of the Tour de France as Chris Froome extended his overall race lead.
Cummings, 34, who rides for South African team MTN-Qhubeka, formed part of the day’s 20-man breakaway and managed to crest a steep late climb just behind the two leaders on the road, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale).
The unassuming French pair were preparing to sprint against each on the 1.5km of flat to the finish, but Cummings came powering past with just over 1km remaining and hung on to beat Pinot into second by two seconds and Bardet into third by three seconds.
It was the biggest victory of the former Team Sky and BMC Racing rider’s 11-year career – his previous best being a stage win at the 2012 Vuelta a Espana – and it not only gave MTN-Qhubeka an unfancied victory in their debut Tour de France, but it came as the team celebrated Mandela Day.
Froome (Team Sky) followed in 20th place, one second ahead of Nairo Quintana (Movistar), 19 seconds up on Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and 40 seconds in front of Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing).
Froome consequently extended his overall lead from 2min 52sec to 3min 10sec over Quintana, who climbed to second ahead of Van Garderen, with the American now 3min 32sec down in third.
Cummings said: "I saw Pinot. He is cautious in the corners so I threw caution to the wind and got a little gap. I'm pretty confident, with those climbers, that with the gap on the downhill or the flat, that it would be difficult to catch me.
"It was a good moment. You always wait for the right moment. I always dreamed of winning a stage like this, from a big breakaway - all my career that is what I have wanted to do."
A disconsolate Pinot added: "I managed to see Bardet but I didn't see Cummings coming at all, and when he suddenly appeared, he was going really fast. I was feeling really good today, so it's hugely disappointing. Finishing second after the way we worked today, it's a failure."
Stage 14 took the riders 178.5km from Rodez to Mende on a route ending with a climb of the Cote de la Croix Neuve, which averages 10.1 per cent over its 3km distance, and then 1.5km of downhill and flat to the finish line.
When the breakaway took a six-minute lead over the peloton on to the foot of the climb, there was no doubt one of the group would win, and it looked certain to be either Bardet or Pinot after pulled ahead on the steep incline.
Television cameras didn’t even focus on the chasers, so it was a major surprise when Cummings – a powerful rider noted more for his time-trialling than his climbing – appeared from seemingly nowhere and stormed past to claim a landmark victory for MTN-Qhubeka.
Back down the road, Quintana was the first to attack out of the peloton and although Froome was initially dropped, he slowly managed to work his way back to the Colombian’s wheel with Contador in tow.
When Quintana attacked again just shy of the summit, Froome was the only rider able to follow as Contador, Van Garderen and Nibali fell further adrift of the yellow jersey.
The Tour continues on Sunday with a rolling, 183km 15th stage from Mende to Rodez. Follow it with our live blog from 1pm BST and find out more about the route in our race guide.
Stage 14 result
1 Steve Cummings (GB) MTN-Qhubeka, 4:23:43
2 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr, +2secs
3 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +3
4 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx – Quick-Step, +20
5 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo, +29
6 Cyril Gautier (Fra) Europcar, +32
7 Ruben Plaza (Esp) Lampre-Merida, same time
8 Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek Factory Racing, st
9 Jonathan Castroviejo (Esp) Movistar, st
10 Simon Yates (GB) Orica-GreenEdge, +33
20 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, +4:15
21 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +4:16
22 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, +4:19
23 Alberto Contador (Esp) Tinkoff-Saxo, +4:34
24 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, +4:45
25 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing, +4:55
30 Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky, +5:06
1 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, 56:02:193
2 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +3:10
3 Tejay van Garderen (US) BMC Racing, +3:32
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, +4:02
5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo, +4:23
6 Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky, +4:54
7 Robert Gesink (Net) LottoNL-Jumbo, +6:23
8 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, +8:17
9 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal, +8:23
10 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing, +8:53