• Daryl Impey relishes victory following his Stage 9 win in Brioude to become only the second South African to win a stage at the Tour de France. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Mitchelton-Scott's Daryl Impey becomes only second South African to win a stage at the Tour de France after Robbie Hunter first did so over a decade ago.
By
Cycling Central

15 Jul 2019 - 7:27 AM  UPDATED 15 Jul 2019 - 7:31 AM

Two-time Tour Down Under winner and reigning national road race champion Daryl Impey continues to add one career-defining moment after another since beginning his career with British-registered UCI Professional Continental team Barloworld in 2008.

However, becoming only the second South African to win a stage at the Tour de France on Sunday comes close to topping the list, according to the 34-year-old Mitchelton-Scott rider, who let out an emphatic celebratory roar after the finish.

"Trying to win at this level has been so tough over the years. So many good guys. I think to finally nail it, to finally get that victory that's what it was," Impey told SBS reporter Sophie Smith regarding his emotional release following the Stage 9 win. "Just so proud and so happy. Tops my career now. That's probably it."

Impey storms Bastille Day stage
Mitchelton-Scott's Daryl Impey didn't stick around with the large break to contest a sprint finale, preferring to launch a late attack on the final climb and storm into Brioude with just Tiesj Benoot (Soudal-Lotto) left to out sprint.

Impey, an eight-time national time trial champion, who has won the past seven straight South African titles against the clock, as well as the past two road race titles, is only the second South African to capture a stage win at the Tour with compatriot Robbie Hunter first doing so 12 years ago in 2007 with a victory over Fabian Cancellara in Montpellier.

"Any stage winner of the Tour de France is a pretty elite club," said Impey. "But it's great for South Africa as well. We are a country where we have not done so well in cricket lately, so it finally gives us some good news in sport."

Mitchelton-Scott sports director Matt White emotionally discusses Daryl Impey's stage win snapping a three-year drought for the Australian-registered UCI WorldTour team at the Tour de France.

According to Impey, Stage 9 offered his best chance for solo success at this year's Tour, but he first had to rely on a bit of luck and self-belief to place himself into contention.

"We started the stage just trying to get in the break," he exclaimed. "It's a lottery just trying to make the breakaway. First, you have to make the break and then your chances go up. Then you look around and see so many world-class bike riders and you kind of second guess yourself. But the whole day I just kind of believed in myself and just knew today was the only chance I'd get this Tour de France and just make the most of it."

Making history is nothing new to Impey, who became the first African to wear the yellow jersey after assuming the leader's jersey from then-Orica team-mate Simon Gerrans on Stage 6 won by André Greipel in 2013. While wearing the maillot jaune is the benchmark in the sport of cycling, Impey admits winning a stage at Le Tour is pretty close.

"The yellow jersey, it is so hard to top that – it's the Holy Grail," he admitted. "I don't think that is a moment anything could top in cycling, but the Tour de France victory is right up there with it."

Zwift SBS Cycling Podcast: Stage 9 - A win for Mitchelton-Scott on Bastille Day

Stage 9 of the 2019 Tour de France (or maybe we should call it 8b for Richie Porte) and on Bastille Day, it's Mitchelton Scott that takes it.

With another 12 stages remaining and general classification goals firmly at the forefront, Impey believes his victory in Brioude could be just the ticket for Mitchelton-Scott to push toward Paris in full support for team leader Adam Yates.

"I just wish I could go home right now, would be nice to end it this way," joked Impey before taking a more serious tone. "Still lots of work to do, hopefully, this will spur the boys on quite well. Going to take a lot of the pressure off. We still have Adam with a big goal of trying to get a yellow jersey in Paris.

"I think it will lift the mood and we will all be pretty happy."