After his win in the British Time Trial Championship, here’s what Dimension Data’s Steve Cummings told us when we asked him about his chances in the British Road Race Championship:
“I’m not at 100% so don’t believe I have the condition to win the road race – it’ll be perhaps another 10 days before I come into my best shape.”
Despite that, two days later he was topping his second Isle of Man podium as British Elite Time Trial and Road Race Champion.
David Millar accomplished the same double back a decade ago; but that was 2007 BS – ‘Before Sky.’
Going into the race it was ‘home boy’ Peter Kennaugh (Sky) – who’s record in this race is exemplary, two each of gold, silver and bronze medals – who was favourite along with fast finishing Ben Swift who also lives ‘on the Island.’
But when we saw Basque Country, Dauphine, Tirreno, Vuelta and Tour stage winner Cummings in the mix, late in the day we knew that the ‘island boys’ were not going to have it all their own way.
Here’s what Steve had to say to VeloVeritas after his brilliant win which put Chris Lawless and Ian Bibby into the minor placings:
Great ride, Steve – a dream result despite you telling us you weren’t confident about how it would go.
“When I said that I was worried that the race might go away from me; I don’t race in the UK often so I don’t know the riders and I didn’t understand the tactics.
“There was a lot of jumping around but you have to wait until the strong riders come to the fore, later in the day.
“The circuit wasn’t too hard and I knew that whatever I did I had to get away from Peter and Swifty because I couldn’t out-sprint them.
“I never really attacked, I tried a dig with 30 k to go but it was a strange race, riders would try to get away on their own from that distance out – which is a long way on your own – but when you attacked they’d close you down rather than try to join you.
“The big circuit wasn’t that hard despite the fact that it split into three big groups on the mountain – but by the time we got onto the last few laps of the finish circuit you could see that a lot of guys were dead.
“I just waited and made my move with one lap to go; I had 40 seconds by the line.”
So your ticket to plane Dusseldorf is booked?
And you get to wear that nice jersey for all 21 stages.
“I’m really looking forward to that; it’s not like winning a World Tour race but every day when you put the national champion’s jersey on it’s special and I’m going to enjoy wearing it.”
Will there be ‘trick’ paint jobs for the Cervélos?
“I’m not sure what the turnaround is on paint jobs…
“I said kind of tongue in cheek to management that I’d like a white and chrome bike for the Tour – I had one like that a year or two ago and really liked it.”
Going back to the championships, who were the ‘danger men’ for you before the start?
“Swift and Kennaugh. but like I said; I did what I normally do which is to wait and follow ‘til it gets hard and then see who’s left.”
Did anyone surprise you?
“Not really but Scott Davies is a good young rider, that’s four times he’s won the U23 time trial title and he looks very neat and tidy on his bike.
“He also rode a very good Baby Giro, and he’s 66/68 kilos so he can climb as well as time trial – that’s an unusual but good combination.”
Any worrying moments?
“Not worrying – annoying.
“But it’s a different level to what I’m used to and there were things going on that just don’t happen in World Tour races.
“For example, I was pulling on the mountain then swung off, you don’t mind so much if someone can’t come through and sits on – but then when I was going back down the line, no one would let me in.
“You just don’t do that.
“But like I say, different levels – I got a bit angry a couple of times but stayed calm.
“The British Champs is actually my least favourite race to ride because of the standard of riding by some of the competitors – that said it’s still a beautiful race to win.”
How did you spend the time between the TT and road race?
“I was staying in a nice place which was right above a Thai restaurant – so I ate a lot of spicey chicken and coconut rice – so many portions!
“By the time I did my four hours on the bike on Friday and two hours on Saturday I didn’t have that much free time – and we did find a good coffee shop.”
What now prior to the Tour?
“I’ll just do my usual training, my shape is coming and if you do the work and keep your weight under control it doesn’t matter if you’re within a few watts here or there, you get the signs which indicate you’re in the ballpark and I think I have better form to come.
“But one of the reasons I don’t usually ride the UK Nationals is the weather; we were 14 degrees on the Island, in Central Europe it’ll be 20 degrees higher, that takes your body a bit of getting used to.
“That’s why I don’t usually come back; I like to stay in the heat.”
Final question – was there much of a party?
“I had some champagne on the podium at 6:30 but had to be on the boat for 7:30 – where I had one beer.
“With the Tour coming up it’s not party time – that wouldn’t be correct.”
The man is a proper pro; we can’t think of anyone better to take care of those lovely jerseys for the next year – and we’ve already warned him that we’ll be pestering him at the le Tour, for which we wish him every success.