The South African won the Australian WorldTour race on countback from last year’s winner Richie Porte, triumphing through a blend of impressive tactics, vital sprint bonuses, and solid teamwork from Mitchelton-Scott. The win marked the biggest stage race victory in his career and ‘the most versatile rider on the team’ according to directeur sportif Matt White, will now prepare for the European season.
“It’s a relief. This morning I thought that it should all be alright but you never know it’s done until it’s done. I’m happy that it was controlled and that there were no crashes in the final. The boys rode really well,” Impey said of the final stage in downtown Adelaide won by Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal).
“The Ardennes are the next big target. I’d love to win the national championships next month. That’s something I’ve not done [ed. on the road] and there are some stages in races like Catalunya that suit me. Then there are the Ardennes, and Amstel Gold will be a big focus. We’ll take it day-by-day but the team has so much depth to it. To put your hands up and say you’re better than the others takes a lot. Hopefully, I’ll grow from here.”
An Ardennes opportunity
Impey’s record in the Ardennes doesn’t make for pretty reading. He’s never shone during that week in April but he has often worked for other riders. However, this Tour Down Under win was a victory for the faith Mitchelton-Scott have shown in their South African rider as much as it was for the man himself. Over the last few years Impey has sacrificed his chances for the likes of Simon Gerrans but the four-time winner is now a BMC rider, and Impey took his chance impeccably well.
Considering that Mitchelton-Scott’s previous Ardennes leaders - Gerrans, Michael Matthews, Pieter Weening, and Simon Clarke - have all left the team, the spring campaign represents another opportunity for Impey.
“This is a step up in my career,” he said.
“You always get these little stepping stones and milestones and this is just one of them. I’ve ridden for other guys who have been in this situation, and it’s a lot easier to ride for someone else. To come in and take the pressure for a change, and have a go, I’m really happy to be able to do it.”
“Even to start the day with the leader’s jersey was a huge accomplishment. Obviously, I wanted to finish it off. I was nervous coming into today but you roll with the punches and go with it. We had it under control and I was in good hands.”