Daryl Impey's second win in as many years made the South African the first rider to defend his title at the men's Tour Down Under. The Mitchelton-Scott rider was able to follow Richie Porte's (Trek-Segafredo) stage-winning attack on Willunga Hill, tying up the overall win in the process.
While CCC Team's Patrick Bevin had gone into the final stage as the race leader, with Impey seven seconds behind the New Zealander on the GC, Bevin's injuries from his crash the day before proved too much on the first ascent of two of Willunga Hill, and with him slipping out of contention, it left Impey just needing to stay in touch with the likes of Porte, Sky's Wout Poels, Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) and Rohan Dennis (Bahrain-Merida) to ensure overall victory.
Impey performed with aplomb, and in fact his whole team appeared not to put a foot wrong all week. Impey was effusive about their contribution to his win, but Lucas Hamilton, who was the last man at the race winner's side on the two days that counted most – stage 3, over the climb of Corkscrew, which was won by Impey, and on stage 6 to Willunga – drew particular praise from both Impey and head sports director Matt White.
"It was incredibly well ridden by Daryl, but he's had incredible support all week. A fellow who really stepped up was Lucas Hamilton – a second-year pro – and although the whole team was incredible all week, what you saw on the final climb there to nullify some of the best climbers in the world, that's what enabled Daryl to ride the way he did in that final and do enough to seal the win," White said.
"If I didn't have Lucas there for me in the final, I definitely wouldn't have been that close to Richie in the end – and especially on the day that I won the stage," added Impey. "He's a young rider but has big potential. But the whole team was fantastic – it wasn't only one guy."
Battling intense heat once again – just as Impey and his team had on their way to the win in 2018 – White explained that it was important to make sage decisions en route to final victory on Willunga Hill.
"You've got to pick your moments, and when it was at 43C, it wasn't the time to waste energy," White said.
"We knew that we were going to have opportunities later in the week, and every effort you make in these sorts of temperatures, you pay for later in the week. We rode a pretty calculated race, as always, but it was always going to come down to the last three minutes of this climb.
"Until they change the format, that's how it's always going to be," he continued. "The climbs are not long enough to be too decisive, but long enough to offer enough to the all-rounders like Daryl and some of the world's best climbers."
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