An emotional Matt White was full of praise for Daryl Impey's win on stage 9 of the Tour de France in Brioude on Sunday. Mitchelton-Scott's head sports director paid tribute to the South African road race champion, who has been an integral part of the Australian-registered WorldTour team for each of its three – and now four – Tour stage wins.
The 34-year-old rode strongly in the latter part of the race – first making the split with around 25km to go, when the day's main 15-man rider break halved, and then later shrugging off most of the rest inside the last 10km, with just Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) to beat in a two-up sprint to the line.
"Daryl has been a part of every Tour victory we've had," pointed out White on his team's website. "In 2013, he led Simon Gerrans out to the win, and in 2016 he led Michael Matthews out to his win, and was also part of the team time trial in 2013 – and today he won on his own. So, he's been a part of every victory we've had in this organisation at the Tour de France, and many more."
Mitchelton-Scott were widely believed to be keeping their powder dry until at least Thursday, when the race hits the Pyrenees and the Tour's first big mountains this year. Adam Yates is their protected rider for the GC, but White revealed that this weekend's two hillier stages – Mâcon to Saint-Etienne on stage 8 on Saturday, and Sunday's ninth stage between Saint-Etienne and Brioude – had been noted as possibilities for Impey or Matteo Trentin.
"We'd earmarked stages eight and nine as stages that very much suited the characteristics of Daryl and Matteo. So obviously having one of the two in the breakaway was going to be key – having someone fast to finish it off," said White. "When we saw the composition of the break [on stage 9 on Sunday], that was one box ticked, but it was a very, very strong group.
"I don't know off the top of my head, but there were probably four or five Tour de France stage winners in that group, so it was never going to be an easy win," he said, with in fact just two of the riders in the 15-man break – five-time stage winner Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma) and Dimension Data's Edvald Boasson Hagen, who's won three stages – as past winners.
"The crucial moment for Daryl's win was when he bridged across and left the two fastest guys," explained White, presumably referring to Boasson Hagen and 2019 Tour of California stage winner Iván García Cortina (Bahrain-Merida), who were left behind in the split. "Once he got across to the front group, that was one thing, but he was definitely the fastest guy to finish off the sprint."
Impey easily despatched Benoot in the final sprint, taking what was the first Grand Tour win of his career.