Cummings earns South African team landmark win, Froome leads

Sat Jul 18, 2015 1:47pm EDT
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By Julien Pretot

MENDE, France (Reuters) - British journeyman Stephen Cummings earned South African team MTN-Qhubeka a landmark victory on Mandela Day when he spoiled a French party to take a surprise win in the 14th stage of the Tour de France on Saturday.

Cummings beat Thibaut Pinot into second and Romain Bardet into third, powering past the two Frenchmen inside the final kilometers while both were marking each other thinking the race was between the two of them with French president Francois Hollande watching from the race director's car.

Cummings, riding for the first African team on the Tour de France, even had time to raise his arms in celebration after staying within distance of the French rivals in the final climb, a 3-km ascent at an average gradient of 10.1 percent.

"We had special meeting this morning (because of Mandela Day) and we had special helmets on, it was a big motivation," said Cummings.

"It was a long shot and luckily I played it well."

Briton Chris Froome retained the overall leader's yellow jersey after holding off his rivals and even gained further ground at the end of the 198.5-km ride from Rodez.

After Cummings had won from the day's breakaway, Froome came under fire from his rivals for the general classification.

Colombian Nairo Quintana was the first to attack in the final climb and he was followed by Spaniard Alejandro Valverde and defending champion Vincenzo Nibali of Italy.   Continued...

MTN-Qhubeka rider Stephen Cummings of Britain celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the 178.5-km (110.9 miles) 14th stage of the 102nd Tour de France cycling race from Rodez to Mende, France, July 18, 2015. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini