Daryl Impey finally clinched his first SA National Road Championships road-race title in Oudtshoorn today.
Impey, who had spoken about the importance of still winning in South Africa two months ago, was clearly delighted with his victory in the 155km race.
“It was special to win today,” he told In the Bunch. “It’s a race I have never won. I have come close so many times; I’ve had so many second-places before.
“I usually always got marked out of the race before, but finally things went my way today.
“It will be special to race with the South African stripes on my jersey in Europe,” he added.
The Tour Down Under champion, who rides for the Australian-based Mitchelton-Scott, had no teammates to support him throughout the race.
He felt he adjusted well in the circumstances. “It was difficult in the beginning. I missed the first split and there were many strong riders up the road,” Impey said.
“The ProTouch guys also missed it, so I encouraged them to work [with me] as well.”
Then on the one corner they threw the other riders in the gutter and caused a split, he said.
“That’s how we rode away, and as we were catching up to the first group there was a crash just behind us which took out half of the Dimension Data riders.”
Impey said he then “worked off of the ProTouch riders” to get to the front.
“I caught the breakaway group with the ProTouch boys,” he said. “They just kept applying pressure all day. They were riding for Reynard Butler and trying to help him out.
“That suited me too; we had mutual interest there,” he added.
DiData’s Jacques Janse van Rensburg, who Impey beat to the line in the final sprint, then attacked with 20km to go.
“We knew Jacques was going to attack because the rest of the DiData guys hadn’t come back yet after their crash. I then followed him and thought I could take him in the sprint.
“I was happy to get away with him. It was also handy having Jason Oosthuizen, an under-23 rider, with us because he was also interested in pushing it to the finish.”
Impey took his hat off to the effort the ProTouch riders put in on the day. “A big mention should go to them. They held off a very strong DiData team.
“They rode together as a unit and it was quite impressive to see a local team hold off guys who have a lot of experience overseas.”
The race was turned on its head for DiData after the crash, Impey said. “A lot of them wiped themselves out there. The race was on at that point and we focused on catching the breakaway.
“Jacques was really stiff at the end, so credit to him for taking it to the race.”