Friday, October 22, 2021
HomeInterviewsSteve Cummings - the New British TT Champion is 'The Real Deal"

Steve Cummings – the New British TT Champion is ‘The Real Deal”

-

Steve Cummings.

Steve Cummings, he’s the real deal.

Dues fully paid at low budget Landbouwkrediet and Barloworld, he’s also ridden with some of the biggest teams in the sport; Discovery, Sky and BMC – before finding what is the ideal squad for him, Dimension Data where letting him ‘do his own thing’ has paid off for both parties in spades.

Back in his Disco days, Alberto Contador once said he’d have Cummings in his team any day of the week.

Enough said.

British champion on road and track, Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Olympic Games silver medallist, Italian semi-classic winner, stage race winner and stage winner in the likes of the Basque Country, Dauphine and Tirreno; not to mention Grand Tour stage winner – and still the same humble, grounded, approachable man he’s always been.

Unfortunately Cummings suffered a fractured collarbone, scapula and sternum in a bad crash on stage four of the Tour of the Basque Country back in the spring.

Not many could say they won their first race back after a spill like that – especially when they had to beat a man like Movistar’s specialist ‘chronoman’ Alex Dowsett to do it.

But here’s what British Elite Time Trial Champion 2017, Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) had to say to VeloVeritas shortly after his victory.

Congratulations, Steve – the big questions first, did you have Manx kippers for breakfast on the day?

“No, I always stick to what I know – but I certainly saw them on the menu this morning.”

Your first race back after the crash?

“Yeah, I’m in not bad shape but maybe only 90% of my best – I’m sure that in two or three weeks I’ll be back to my best; I’m at stage in my recovery where I know I can build on the good base I have.”

What was the parcours like?

“Up or down all the time, a typically British ‘sporting’ course.

“There were no ‘proper’ climbs but the drags were long and you had to work hard on the downhill stretches too where normally you’d be looking for some recovery.”

Steve Cummings
Steve flanked by Alex Dowsett and James Gullen on the podium. Photo©Simon Wilkinson \ SWpix

And on your usual Cervelo TT rig?

Yeah, just as it was set up for the Basque Country, I had 56 x 11 top and 42 x 25 – or it maybe a 23 ? – bottom, and I needed it!

“I was on Continental tyres.

“I actually dropped my chain at one point, it’s a big jump, 42 to 56 but I was lucky not to have to stop, I managed to get it back on – it was at a bad spot where you should be trying to carry speed, not lose it.

“If I’d lost by a couple of seconds due to that I’d have been very disappointed.”

Did you have any team personnel with you?

“No, I just flew in with my bikes – it was only certain for the last few days that I’d be riding, a last minute thing.”

Were you getting time checks on anyone?

“No, I was off early – I was finishing more or less as Alex Dowsett was just getting under way.”

Steve Cummings
Steve during the Time Trial Champs. Photo©IOMToday

How did you judge your pace?

“I use everything, power, heart rate and ‘feel.’

“The day before I did 25 minutes at a power I reckoned I could handle for the duration on Wednesday and it worked out perfectly.

“It wasn’t the kind of course which wasn’t about ‘flat power’ you were doing 60 kph downhill so you can’t get the power down but then you have to go over threshold on the climbs.

“I was aggressive on the climbs without over-cooking it; I tried to surge over the little rises.

“Ultimately it’s about feel though – I guess if I’d been getting time checks on someone and it was close I may have been able to get a more out.”

It must have seemed like a long wait to see if you’d bested Dowsett’s time?

“I kept hearing that Dowsett was eight seconds up on me but I knew that I’d finished strongly.

“I lost a bit of time in the corners, I was cautious, not so much that you’re scared after the crash just that you’re race rusty.

“I was riding to the podium – I was going to be in at least second place – when I heard the announcement that I’d beaten Alex by eight seconds.”

When will you get to air your nice new British Champion’s skinsuit?

“Hopefully in Dusseldorf next Saturday – stage one of the Tour de France – the team will be finalised after the national road race championships on Sunday.

“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.”

Going back to that awful crash in the Basque Country, what happened?

“The road suddenly went from three lanes down to one; it was messy with traffic and bollards all over the place.

“There was a big crash in front of me and nowhere where for me to go, I crashed into the bollards and came down heavily on my shoulder.”

Steve Cummings
Steve is a talented time triallist. Photo©ASO/A.Broadway

There were complications to your recuperation though?

“I had my first operation in Cologne and things went well – I was thinking I’d be back in action at the Dauphine.

“But I slipped and fell at home and didn’t realise that I’d knocked my scapula out of line.

“It wasn’t until 10 days after that it was discovered that the joint was ‘stepped’ – when I’d gone in for a check up x-ray.

“They had to re-break and re-set the joint; that’s a much more difficult procedure than dealing with a broken collarbone.

“The collar bone is dealt with from the surface but they have to go in through your back to get to the scapula.”

It must have been a difficult time for you?

“Whilst it was nice to spend time with my family, there was a lot of frustration – and pain.

“I was on pain killers for 10 days – I’m not into taking things like that but I had to, I couldn’t move, couldn’t sleep.

“But they do take you out of yourself – you’re just ’not with it at all.’

“Day to day you don’t notice any improvement but after a week or so you think; “well, I couldn’t have managed to do that a week ago.”

“I mean, I couldn’t load the dish washer or hold our baby.

“When I got back on the bike it was a shock, I felt so unfit.

“I have aches and pains still but the doctor reckons it’ll be about another six weeks before I’m at a stage where it’s as good as it gets.”

What’s the goal now?

“Carry on recovering, have a good Tour, get the belief back and go for a stage win.”

VeloVeritas wishes Steve well and will be there for his prime ‘stage hunts’ from 10 through to 15.

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

Related Articles

Chris Fennell – British 25 Mile Time Trial Champion 2019

23 year-old student Chris Fennell [Team Independent Pedaler] is the new British 25 Mile Time Trial champion, beating Phil Williams [Liverpool Phoenix CC] by 26 seconds with regular on Scottish roads, Adam Wild [GS Metro] third with 46:57. In true VeloVeritas tradition we ‘had a word.’

Richard Bideau – Another record-breaking 100 Mile Time Trial, but again no certificate

Biggest news of the weekend? Spilak wins overall in Suisse - and the Russian team takes the GC at ZLM too with Goncalves; Dillier wins the Route du Sud for BMC or Cav shows form in Slovenia to get the Dimension Data management team off the Valliums? Nope - Richard Bideau. Adam Duggleby’s (Vive le Velo) 3:16:51 to break the British 100 mile time trial record on the e2/100, Newmarket course is the ride which has tongues wagging on this side of the Channel and North Sea. Peter Harrison (AS Test Team) 3:18:58 was also inside the old mark; as was the man we interviewed two years ago when we all thought he’d nabbed the record with his 3:18:54, reigning BBAR Richard Bideau – until the course was re-measured and found to be ‘short’ by 0.2 miles. We caught up with Bideau two days after his ride...

Graham Kemp – National 24 Hour TT Champion 2019

We spoke to Graham Kemp (Team Bottrill) who recorded 544.32 miles to win the national 24 hour championship, eclipsing Andy Wilkinson’s 2011 total of 541.17 miles.

Marcin Bialoblocki – New British Record, 50 Miles in 90 Minutes!

Here at VeloVeritas we like to keep abreast of those competition records, down south and up here in Bonnie Scotland, for example the CTT British 50 mile time trial record, recently broken; how does 50 miles in 90 minutes sound? That’s the ride big Polish ‘chronoman’ Marcin Bialoblocki (NOPINZ) produced: 1:30:31. 

British Time Trial Championships 2018

No Steve Cummings – saving it for the road race or just no form? - it looked like a shoot-out then between Dauphine winner, Geraint Thomas and chrono specialist Alex Dowsett (Katusha) for the British Time Trial Championships 2018. The sun was out, our spot on the hill was perfect, the marshal was sound with not a trace of Janitordom and Dave’s cheese and ham pieces were of exceptional quality. And Britain’s best bike riders were set to scoot past us. Not much more a man can want in life.

Matt Bottrill – National Champion and Record Breaker Joins the Legends

We can’t keep up with that man Matt Bottrill – but then not many can - no sooner had the ink gone dry on this interview we did with him after he won the 25 champs than he’d won the 10 mile champs in the second fastest time ever (17:40) and then added the ‘blue riband’ - the 25 record with 45:43 to join Bonner, Engers, Boardman and Hutchinson as a TT ‘legend.’

At Random

Cannondale Synapse makes a successful debut at the Classics

Cannondale Synapse was the frame of choice for many of the riders of Team Liquigas at last weekend's Tour of Flanders, including Filippo Pozzato and eventual podium-finisher, Luca Paolini. The frame offers a number of features which make it well suited for the cobbled classics, the most physically demanding races of the calendar, both for the riders and their equipment.

Giro d’Italia 2007 – Day 2: Stage 1, Caprera – La Maddalena (Team TT)

It's now 19.45 on Saturday evening, and we're sat in the car en route La Maddalena listening to The Pioneers, 'Let your yeah be yeah' - crucial, John. The ferry port at Maddalena is grid-locked, but we've got our reggae and a cold Dreher beer, so waiting for the ferry isn't so bad. We shared the ferry out with CSC and Saunier, but they are long-gone on the first ferry out. It's been a cracking day, weather and gig-wise.

Scottish Hill Climb Championships 2010 – Preview

Promoted by Sandy Wallace Cycles, the Scottish Hill Climb Championships 2010 takes place on Sunday on the Purrin Den ascent in Fife, and around 35 hardy souls are preparing to put themselves through the seven minutes (and more) of pain it'll take to see the relay station at the finish...

Sid Barras – Part Two; National Champion in ’79 – after 10 years of trying

In Part Two of our interview with British professional legend, Sid Barras we discuss the race he was favourite for every year for a decade but which it took him 10 years to win; the British Professional Road Race Championship.

Copenhagen Six Day 2012 – Day Six

The camper, 10:23 Wednesday morning, and the Copenhagen Six Day 2012 is all over. The cabins are bare; Dirk is in his camper headed for Drongen; Jackie and his dad have been safely deposited at the airport and we're heading into Copenhagen for a little bit of R & R before we get the plane home.

Drew Wilson – One of the Best Scottish Roadmen in the 80s and 90s

When I asked Drew Wilson (or 'Mr. Visualbikefit', as he’s known on social media) if he’d like to do a wee interview with us here at VeloVeritas he replied that he wasn’t sure he had enough interesting things to say? We said that we’d risk it and we’re glad we did…