British cyclist Steve Cummings claimed the second Tour de France win of his career with a superb solo victory on stage seven in the Pyrenees. The 35-year-old attacked out of a breakaway group with 27km remaining and pulled away to win by 1min 5sec at Lac de Payolle.
Cummings’ victory means four of the first seven stages of this year’s Tour have been won by British riders from the Dimension Data team, following Mark Cavendish’s hat-trick of triumphs on stages one, three and six. There was controversy at the end of the stage, when the air bridge marking 1km to go collapsed just as the peloton was approaching it.
While most riders were merely held up, Britain’s Adam Yates riding for Orica-BikeExchange was knocked off his bike and sustained a cut to his face.Race leader Greg Van Avermaet of BMC Racing was part of the breakaway and although he couldn’t keep pace with the outstanding Cummings, he finished 1min 25sec ahead of the peloton in fifth to extend his lead at the top of the general classification to 6min 36sec over second-placed Etixx – Quick-Step rider Julian Alaphilippe.
All of the favourites for overall victory finished in the main pack, leaving Chris Froome of Team Sky and Nairo Quintana of Movistar now 6min 42sec adrift of Van Avermaet in fifth and sixth.
Stage seven was the first of three back-to-back days in the Pyrenees and ended with an ascent of the category-one Col d’Aspin and then a 7km descent to Lac de Payolle. The breakaway was initially made up of 29 men and included pedigree riders such as Italian Vincenzo Nibali of Astana, Germany’s Tony Martin riding for Etixx – Quick-Step and Fabian Cancellara of Trek-Segafredo, but it broke apart when a trio attacked with 43km to go.Cummings joined them 5km later and then attacked again 7km before the start of the Aspin to move into a solo lead.
He began the 12km climb with an advantage of 30 seconds over a chase group led by Nibali and it looked likely he would be caught, but instead, he continued to pull away and was more than a minute ahead by the summit. Cummings safely negotiated the descent to the finish to seal his fourth win of the season, while Daryl Impey of Orica-BikeExchange out-sprinted Cofidis rider Daniel Navarro for second place.
The Tour continues tomorrow with a 184km mountain stage from Pau to Bagneres-de-Luchon.
Stage seven result
1 Steve Cummings (GB) Dimension Data, 3:51:58
2 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-BikeExchange, +1:05
3 Daniel Navarro (Esp) Cofidis, same time
4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, +2:14
5 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing, +3:04
1 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing, 34:13:40
2 Julian Alaphilippe (fra) Etixx – Quick-Step, +6:36
3 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, +6:38
4 Joaquim Rodriguez (Esp) Katusha, +6:39
5 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, +6:42
6 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, same time
7 Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant-Alpecin, st
8 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale-Drapac, st
9 Dan Martin (Irl) Etixx – Quick-Step, st
10 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana, st