The 4th stage of Tirreno-Adriatico turned out to be a dream day for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka as Steve Cummings took the victory ahead of Salvatore Puccio (Team Sky) with teammate Natnael Berhane finishing in 3rd position.
The stage started just as most others do with an early break going clear in the opening kilometres of the race. Today it was 4 riders that jumped clear of the peloton, which was led by Etixx-Quickstep and Astana for the majority of the day. The breakaway got a maximum lead of 5 minutes but with the stage being 222km in length, the peloton was always going to reel the escapees in.
The catch took place with around 30km to go and then there was all to ride for, with 2 short but steep categorised climbs providing the platform for an exciting race. It was on these climbs that Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka showed its strength. The initial plan for the day was to protect Edvald Boasson Hagen and Steve Cummings and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg were doing this to perfection.
Trek Factory Racing ramped up the pace on the penultimate climb which saw many riders being dropped from the peloton. By the time the front group went over the final climb of the day at 15km to go, there was only 40 riders left in the peloton. Boasson Hagen still had Cummings and Natnael Berhane for support in this select group.
Attacks started to fly from the front group with Cummings and Berhane covering each one, hoping to keep the race together for Boasson Hagen. Puccio then put in a telling attack with 6km to go which Cummings and Matteo Montaguti (Ag2R) followed. The trio got a 10 second gap before 3 riders jumped across the gap to join them, Berhane was part of this move placing our African Team in a great position with 2 riders in the lead group of 6.
The chase never seemed to come from the peloton and so with 3km to go, Cummings saw his opportunity and attacked. Nobody could follow our British time trial expert as he soloed to a great win, the first World Tour victory as Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka. Natnael Berhane was part of the sprint for the minor placings and took 3rd place on the line.
The team will have plenty of time to celebrate today’s win as tomorrow’s stage was cancelled due to bad weather conditions.
Steve Cummings – Rider
The plan for the day was to ride for Edvald. In the final when it was just a select group we were trying to close down all the attacks and keep the race together so he could sprint for the victory. When I got away with the Pucchio and Montaguti in the final I didn’t ride on the front because we had Edvald behind. Then Natnael came across and the other guys just kept riding and we sat on. With 3km to go though I saw the victory was being served up on platter for me as the group behind wasn’t coming back, so I took it, I knew I could stay away. I am happy the team could get the win today, we had the numbers today and it worked out really well for us. It’s a great win for the Team, for our sponsors and for Qhubeka.
Natnael Berhane – Rider
I am really happy with the result today. Steve won the stage which is terrific for our team and I was 3rd. This podium placing in a World Tour race is my best result ever, I couldn’t be happier.