Stephen Cummings turned the tables on a miserable season winning the 13th stage of the Vuelta a Espana today in what is the best result of his career to date.
The 31-year-old was part of the definitive seven-man breakaway that escaped some 45km into the rolling 172.8km race from Santiago de Compostela to Ferrol and stayed away.
Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) held onto the leader’s jersey and has a 13 second advantage over Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank). Sky’s Chris Froome remains in striking distance at third overall and 51 seconds behind the race leader.
Cummings’s solo victory came after a well-timed attack on his fellow escapees within the final 5km that saw the break, which had worked well together, split.
Australian Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge) chased furiously with Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) on his wheel but could not bridge to the stage winner and had to settle for second.
“For me to win, I have to win alone,” said Cummings who dedicated the result to his BMC Racing team. “I just tried to wait for a good moment. That was my best victory, for sure, it’s been a very difficult year.”
The win comes after a disruptive season that comprised just 22 race days prior to the Tour de France where Cummings worked for defending champion Cadel Evans. Cummings broke his pelvis at the Tour of Algarve in February. He then broke his left wrist at the Tour of the Basque Country only to week’s later injure it again at the Tour of California.
German sprinter John Degenkolb started the day hopeful of securing a fifth stage win. His Argos-Shimano team, as well as Lotto-Belisol, controlled affairs in the peloton but could not reel in the break, which had a maximum time advantage of about two minutes and 30 seconds. The chase became disorganised within the final 10km with minor attacks ensuing.
Cummings, Meyer, Flecha, Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge), Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM), Linus Gerdemann (RadioShack-Nissan) and Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) comprised the successful breakaway. Viviani dropped back toward the end of the stage and didn’t finish within the top 10.
Stage 13 results, Santiago de Compostela to Ferrol, 172.8km
1. Stephen Cummings (GBr) BMC Racing 4:05:02
2. Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 0:00:04
3. Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Sky
4. Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 0:00:14
5. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Radioshack-Nissan
6. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM
7. John Degenkolb (Ger) Argos-Shimano 0:00:40
8. Allan Davis (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
9. Ben Swift (GBr) Sky
10. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
General classification after Stage 13
1. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 48:56:17
2. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank 0:00:13
3. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky 0:00:51
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar 0:01:20
5. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0:02:59
6. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha 0:03:29
7. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:04:22
8. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 0:05:17
9. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank 0:05:18
10. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank 0:06:01
Steve Cummings celebrates his stage win
Vuelta a Espana 2012: Reports
Stage one report: Movistar win team time trial
Stage two report: Degenkolb wins, Swift third
Stage three report: Valverde victorious after Contador attacks
Stage four report: Rodriguez takes over lead after Valverde crashes
Stage five report: Degenkolb wins again
Stage six report: Froome gains time on Contador
Stage seven report: Degenkolb makes it three at Vuelta
Stage eight report: Valverde doubles his score in Andorra
Stage nine report: Gilbert pips Rodriguez in Barcelona
Stage 10 report: Degenkolb continues unbeaten sprint record
Stage 11: Rodriguez hangs onto lead as Kessiakoff wins time trial
Stage 12: Rodriguez wins stage 12 to extend Vuelta lead
Stage 13: Cummings returns to winner’s circle in Spain
Vuelta a Espana 2012: Photos
Stage one TTT gallery
Stage two gallery
Stage three gallery
Stage four gallery
Stage five gallery
Stage six gallery
Stage seven gallery
Stage eight gallery
Stage nine gallery
Stage 10 gallery
Stage 11 gallery
Stage 12 gallery
Stage 13 gallery
Vuelta a Espana 2012: Start list
Vuelta a Espana 2012: Route info and analysis
Vuelta a Espana 2012 route revealed
Vuelta 2012 route leaves time triallists out in the cold