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LAC DE PAYOLLE, France (AFP) — Stephen Cummings said newfound confidence was behind the Indian summer to his career after claiming his second Tour de France stage victory on Friday.
The Briton is nearing the end of his professional career at 35, but last year he won his first stage on the Tour with a smart ride on stage 14 to outwit French duo Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet.
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But his solo victory on Friday’s seventh Tour stage after a 162.5km ride from l’Isle Jourdain to Lac de Payolle topped the lot.
And he said his victory at last year’s Tour proved crucial in giving him the self-belief that he could claim high-profile victories. “That was the dream. Last year for awhile after I didn’t know what to do, I was lost for months,” said Cummings, who rides for African team Dimension Data, which has now won four of the seven Tour stages this year after British sprinter Mark Cavendish’s hat-trick.
“Then, when I understood what it was that I did, I wanted to do it again. It also gave me the confidence to believe in myself.” Cummings watched the video of that victory several times to inspire him to try his luck more often.
In 2015, he was not considered to have much chance of winning that stage due to a steep ascent just before the finish, and the presence of strong climbers Pinot and Bardet.
But as they played a game of cat-and-mouse, Cummings streaked past to snatch victory.
“I don’t like to watch it, but I have to watch it because it gives me the confidence of what I can do because I’m not the most confident person,” he added.
Cummings also paid tribute to his team for letting him off the leash. “Dimension Data have given me the freedom, the support and the belief — it’s kind of spiraled.
“I’ve always had talent but if you’re in the wrong team or … with a GC rider, it’s hard to get the opportunity.”
His victory also went some way to getting over the disappointment of not making the British Olympic team for Rio.
“The Olympics is the Olympics. They made their selection,” he added. “Am I over it? As an athlete you just deal with it and move on from it.”