After plying his trade on the WorldTour for several years and reaching heights such wearing the mailloit jaune at the Tour de France, Daryl Impey still had some fans asking why he would want to race in South Africa.
Having never won races like the 947 or Cape Town Cycle Tour, the Orica-Scott rider said it was good to “get this monkey off my back” after he beat BCX’s Calvin Beneke and RoadCover’s Eddie van Heerden.
He said many could not understand how he had gone as far as the biggest cycling races in the world without winning the country’s top ones, including the elite national road championships.
“The public in South Africa understand only the Tour de France and big races here.
“So when they ask me if I’ve won them and I tell them no, they can’t believe I got to the Tour de France. They feel our races should surely be the stepping stones.”
The six-time national time-trial champion had taken a roundabout route to get to the European circuit, first making his way to France in 2005 to join Velo Club la Pomme-Marseille.
When that did not work out, he returned home for a while. Thanks to his success locally he moved to two other teams before signing with Barloworld three years later.
“A lot of people in South Africa ask me how one gets to the Tour de France and I admit you need a bit of luck and some help.
“You can’t really compare the races. You can’t say winning the 947 is the start and next is the Tour de France. A lot of things need to fall into place and racing in Europe is a whole different game.”
Impey, who had not raced in South Africa for a few years, said his 947 victory was a way of showing who he was.
“It’s good for me and it’s nice for the public to see guys who race overseas do not think local races aren’t for them.
“It’s important to show the South African public who you are and what you stand for.”
The 32-year-old said last Sunday’s victory was one of his most memorable at home, but he was still looking for the national road title.
Having won the time-trial in February this year, Impey missed the road race a few days later because of family commitments.
He is now preparing for the Tour Down Under, which starts on January 13, and hopes to return home for the national championships the following month in an effort to tick that box too.
“I don’t think there’s anything else I still need to cross off on home soil but the national road title is something that has eluded me for a couple of years, so I’d still like to win that.”
High on his list of priorities are results in Europe. This year he finished fifth in the team time-trial at Tirreno–Adriatico, won stage six of the Volta a Catalunya, finished fifth in the worlds team time-trial and rode the Tour de France.
“I feel I’d like to tick a few boxes in Europe, get a Tour de France stage and try to win a classic. It would be fantastic if I could do something like that,” he said.
“I think there are still quite a few goals to achieve overseas before I start trying to focus on things back home.”