An epic end to the Dauphine 2016 today saw a pretty superb result for the Brits. Chris Froome handled himself well on a murderous final stage, which was full on from the gun, to secure his third victory on the event but what stood out for me was the stage win by Steve Cummings. He soloed to victory after being in the breakaway, taking over 3 minutes out of his nearest opponent.
He is a special kind of rider and one that when he has got away is almost impossible to pull back. Dogged could be one word to describe him but it seems derogatory to use such a word as it does not convey the spirit with which he rides. Great riders of the past are always linked with the word panache, but that doesn’t really apply either.
What Steve Cummings has for me is a very British quality of not knowing when to he is beaten and continuing on regardless. He rarely is beaten when he makes these moves and the aurora he holds is respected by the other riders.
There really was no finer place to witness this than on the Col du Noyer either. This is a special climb and one which terrified me on a twilight ascent and descent last year. The road clings to the sheer rock face precariously in places, which is what makes this climb for me. It may not be huge or especially hard but it is spectacular.
The section from where I watched this stage victory played out was a lovely lush apine meadow adjacent to the road, with the view rolling out to the Ecrins Massif. In total the riders were in view for 2kms and such was his lead that next on the road did not come in to view until Stevo had departed stage left.
After a fine conclusion to the Dauphine I had a climb in mind on the way back back to Aix-les-Bains. Mine was a little less dramatic and often a footnote in cycling history, the Col d’Ornon. This climb is a transitional one that goes towards Bourg d’Oisans and the rather well known Alpe d’Huez.
David Millar does give the Ornon respect though as it worthy of much more than a passing comment. It crosses the 45th parallel, which plays to the cartographic geek in me. In my own little way I honour it too.