Back in the peloton, Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) and Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) tried little accelerations but it was off the back where the real interest was – Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) in difficulty and losing contact.
After receiving a time check of more than a minute to Cummings, Navarro started working with Nibali but Cummings continued to fight through the throngs of fans on the approach to the summit.
Navarro’s efforts distanced Nibali, and the Spaniard – with Impey still just about in tow – pushed on but Cummings crested the climb with a sizable advantage.
In the peloton the attacks continued thick and fast, with white jersey Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) accelerating before the summit – the effort accounting for Barguil.
Cummings descended masterfully, however, and – despite several looks over his shoulder – had time to enhoy the finishing straight as he sealed the fourth Dimension Data win (all from British riders) of this year’s race so far.
The collapse of the air bridge meant a farcical finish to a great stage – and could have further-reaching consequences with Yates bloodied by his fall.
But nothing could deny Cummings his fourth solo victory of the season, and second career win at the Tour.
Tour de France 2016: stage seven – result
1) Steve Cummings (GBR) – Dimension Data – 3.51.58hrs
2) Daryl Impey (RSA) – Orica-BikeExchange +1.05
3) Daniel Navarro (ESP) – Cofidis – ST
4) Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) – Astana +2.14
5) Greg van Avermaet (BEL) – BMC Racing +3.04
6) Luis Mate (ESP) – Cofidis +4.29
7) Geraint Thomas (GBR) – Team Sky – ST
8) Wout Poels (NED) – Team Sky
9) Gorka Izaguirre (ESP) – Movistar
10) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar
General classification (provisional)
1) Greg van Avermaet (BEL) – BMC Racing – 34.13.40hrs
2) Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) – Etixx-QuickStep +6.36
3) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar +6.38
4) Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) – Katusha +6.39
5) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky +6.42
6) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar – ST
7) Warren Barguil (FRA) – Giant-Alpecin
8) Pierre Rolland (FRA) – Cannondale
9) Daniel Martin (IRL) – Etixx-QuickStep
10) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana