Impey scores a win for the workers
South Africa’s Daryl Impey has been crowned the 2018 Santos Tour Down Under champion at the end of 784 kilometres of racing.
Impey, whose usual role is in support of his Mitchelton Scott team mates, shone this week in the tough conditions after a solid off season of training. But it took a count back of cumulative stage placings to decide the win after he and last year’s winner Richie Porte (BMC Racing Team) finished deadlocked on a total race time of 20.03.34. 2013 Tour winner Tom-Jelte Slagter (Dimension Data) was 16 seconds back in third place.
“I’m thrilled,” said a jubilant Impey after the race. “Coming to the Santos Tour Down Under, I didn’t expect to win but sometimes the stars line up and everything goes well and according to plan.
“The final stage was hectic (and) there was a lot at stake,” said Impey. “This is for my family in South Africa, they have sacrificed a lot and I dedicate this to them.”
The Be Safe Be Seen MAC Stage 6 is always a thrilling contest tailor made for the fastest men on two wheels to duke it out in a sprint to the line and today’s finale didn’t disappoint.
Germany’s Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) book-ended his Tour campaign with a convincing win on the line edging out Australian Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton Scott) by half a wheel with world champion Peter Sagan third.
“It wasn’t an easy one,” said Greipel. “The team has done a great job to deliver me (to the line) in a winning position.
“I waited as long as I possibly could (and) Caleb (Ewan) came like a cannonball from the back but I managed to stay up front,” explained Greipel of his record setting win. The two time overall Tour winner has now won the final stage of the Tour six times and holds the record for the most stage wins. “I’m proud of my 18 stage wins at the Santos Tour Down Under. It’s been nice to come back to South Australia.
“With two victories already (including Stage 1), it’s good for my mental state and the team.”
Meantime the race winner was enjoying the spoils of being the team star this week. Impey, the six time South African time trial champion, last enjoyed stage race success in 2009 when he won the Tour of Turkey but since signing on with MItchelton Scott in 2012 his main role has been to work for his team mates to help them deliver results.
“I felt more responsibility when I was in this position as a ‘domestique’ (team support worker) than today in the leader’s jersey,” said Impey adding that he was confident but cautious. “Anything can happen so I had to stay focused.
While Impey is the first South African to win the event he wasn’t the only one on the podium today with compatriot Nicholas Dlamini taking home the Subaru King of the Mountain jersey.
“It’s a great feeling to be on stage on the final day and it’s only the beginning of my career,” said the 22 year old from Team Dimension Data. “I’m happy we got what we wanted today. (Impey) has always been inspirational to me. Me being able to compete with him now is an absolutely great feeling. It’s only the start of good things”
Three time World Champion, Peter Sagan, won the southaustralia.com Sprint classification after a week that saw the Bora hansgrohe star claim honours on Bupa Stage 4 and be in the mix at the front on several other days.
The #seesouthaustralia Young Rider award was claimed by Egan Bernal Gomez (Team SKY) who placed sixth overall and was the best placed rider under the age of 25.
“It feels good to make the final presentation of the first race of the year,” he said. “The Santos Tour Down Under has been good for my confidence and my relationship with my new teammates, I’m very happy with my trip here.”
Bahrain Merida won the Wilson Parking Teams classification by a 26 second margin to Dimension Data.
With seven of the 14 past Tour winners in the race and six more in the stands today provided a fitting finale to the twentieth anniversary edition of the race which was contested in hot, sunny conditions with the temperature soaring into the mid-thirties.
A crowd of 68 thousand lined the Adelaide City Circuit where the stage kicked off with a flurry of attacks in the opening laps until eventually three riders made an attack stick.
Laurent Didier (Trek Segafredo), Truls Korsaeth (Astana Pro Team) and Logan Owen (Education First Drapac) rode clear and set up a handy lead.
As the first of two southaustralia.com intermediate sprints approached more riders attacked from the bunch to join the leaders including a second Astana rider in 2005 Tour winner Luis Leon Sanchez and a second Trek Segafredo rider, Ruben Guerreiro.
Owen scampered clear to cross first at the end of eight laps with Sanchez and Guerreiro crossing for the minor sprint placings.
The next contest on the road was the Subaru King of the Mountain category three climb up Montefiore Hill on lap ten.
Ben O’Connor collected the top points on offer even though his team mate Nicholas Dlamini had already cemented the win in the climber’s classification. Owen was second and Maarten Wynants (Team Lotto NL – Jumbo) was third.
The lead group splintered as O’Connor and Owen went on with the breakaway. The rest were absorbed by the peloton but FDJ’s Antoine Duchesne set off soon after time trialling in pursuit of the leading pair.
At the second sprint O’Connor won from Owen while Duchesne crossed under the arch a minute later to claim third place sprint points with the peloton 2.30 behind the leaders.
The peloton was being controlled by MItchelton Scott who had the race leader safely cocooned and out of danger.
The second Subaru KOM was decided on lap fifteen, 66 kilometres into the race and this time it was Owen who led O’Connor over the line. Duchesne wasn’t able to hold on and was caught by the bunch led by Thomas de Gendt (Lotto Soudal) who claimed third place on the climb to move into fourth overall on the Subaru KOM rankings.
Meantime the lead to the two breakaway riders had been halved with the peloton a minute back and chasing in earnest to set up a bunch sprint finish to decide the final stage.
Owen was named the southaustralia.com Most Competitive Rider of the day for his efforts in front.
The Tanya Denver Memorial Award was presented to local rider Rohan Dennis who was the best placed South Australian in 30th position overall.