After safely negotiating the final stage of this year’s Tour of Britain, Steve Cummings could finally smile and relax, knowing he was just the second British rider to win his home event in the past 12 years.
Despite a slew of Brits targeting the race since its 2004 rebrand, only Sir Bradley Wiggins had finished on the top step of the podium – that victory coming back in 2013.
Cummings himself knew what it felt like to just miss out – having finished as runner-up in both 2008 and 2011 – but after taking the overall lead by finishing eighth on stage six, the 35-year-old grimly hung on to ensure he was finally the bride as opposed to the bridesmaid.
He lost some time on the penultimate stage of the eight-day race on Saturday but did enough to retain his lead and then alertly avoided any drama on Sunday’s finale in London.
Australia’s Caleb Ewan won the sprint at Piccadilly Circus to end the 16-lap 100km stage as Cummings finished in the pack, which was good enough to ensure he finished 26 seconds ahead of Rohan Dennis with Dutchman Tom Dumoulin third overall.
And Cummings’ relief at sealing victory was palpable after the Dimension Data man remained vigilant until the last.
“I'm delighted. Finally I can smile and enjoy it,” he said. “It's been a tough week, it was so close that it wasn't done until I crossed the line.
“I'd to thank all my team-mates for keeping me out of trouble, and the British public for supporting every day like they have. It's been a great week.”
The Tour of Britain triumph was just the latest victory in a spectacular season for Cummings, which included stage wins at the Tour de France, Tirreno-Adriatico, Criterium du Dauphine and the Tour of the Basque Country.
Fellow British rider Ben Swift finished eighth overall but his performance helped Team Sky clinch victory in the team classification.
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