Cummings shocks Valverde on second day in Mallorca

MTN-Qhubeka's Stephen Cummings dispatches Valverde on a hilly day of racing at the Mallorca Challenge

MADRID (AFP) — Britain’s Stephen Cummings proved strongest on the final climb in day two of the four-race Mallorca Challenge on Friday, just ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

The MTN-Qhubeka rider, winner of the Tour of the Mediterranean in 2014 and a stage of the Vuelta a España in 2012, surprised the favorites in the final push and held on ahead of Valverde.

“I’m really happy with today’s victory,” Cummings, 33, said. “I knew I had done a lot of good work over the winter so I’d like to thank the team for the amazing work they did and chance they gave me to focus on today’s race.”

Cummings’ teammate Johann van Zyl spent over 145 kilometers in the day’s main breakaway. The escape started out with 10 riders, but on the lower slopes of the first-category Puig Major climb, the 23-year-old South African, along with José Goncalves (Caja-Rural) and Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale-Garmin), rode clear from the rest of break.

With 38 kilometers to go, van Zyl tried a brief solo attack but was soon caught by Goncalves and van Baarle. With three kilometers to go, the MTN-Qhubeka rider went again. He was eventually the last rider caught, at 1.5km to go.

Soon after, Cummings attacked in the final kilometer and rode to victory.

“I was able to come back to the front right near the end and snatch the victory, so I’m really happy with the result,” the winner said. It was his first win and his first race of the 2015 season.

Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Garmin) was third at six seconds after the 149km run from Andratx to Mirador d’Es Colomer.

Saturday’s third day will also be mountainous, riding 165km from Valldemossa to Deia.