South African Daryl Impey has created history today, becoming the first male to win back-to-back Tour Down Under titles with a third-place finish on the final stage.
After winning on countback in 2018, Impey finished behind Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) and Wout Poels (Team Sky) up Willunga today to claim a more convincing 13-second victory in 2019. The 34-year-old’s performance wraps up an incredibly successful fortnight for Mitchelton-SCOTT after world championship silver medallist Amanda Spratt won her third consecutive Women’s Tour Down Under title last Sunday.
Seven riders immediately surged ahead of the bunch at the start of racing as the peloton, led by Trek-Segafredo, EF Education First and Astana Pro Team, were content to let them take the intermediate sprints and bonus seconds on offer.
They sat at a steady three-minute advantage through the initial laps, but as they started to climb Willunga for the first time, it was down under two minutes and quickly diminishing. As soon as the road went up, they splintered, and the peloton had them in sight.
Team Sky hit the front of the bunch from the bottom of the first ascent, putting pressure on those behind. It was enough to shell race leader Patrick Bevin (CCC Team), who was brave to start today’s stage whilst clearly hindered by the injuries of yesterday’s crash, and pull the remnants of the breakaway back.
Over the top, Team Sky had two riders with a small advantage, but they sat up and waited for the surviving chase group of around 60 riders.
It was Team Sky who drove the pace once again on the final ascent. Porte reacted with 1.5km remaining, his usual launch pad, and quickly bridged across to Wout Poels (Team Sky) who was then alone.
Behind, Michael Woods (EF Education First) and Chris Hamilton (Team Sunweb) were the first to react, but Impey stayed calm and sat on the wheel of teammate Lucas Hamilton, who rode beyond his 22-years.
Knowing his strengths, Impey used the final, flatter 500m to launch from Hamilton’s wheel and gain metres to finish just behind, on the same time as, Porte and Poels to secure the back-to-back victory.
Daryl Impey: “I took the pressure but having the faith of the team goes a long way. We saw the boys committed right to the end. I couldn’t believe they (Porte and Poels) were that close so I just dug deep and went for it.
“That’s special to go back to back. I never dreamed to come here and win twice in a row. Every year we come here with strong ambitions. I knew the competition is always tough. I just believed in myself, and it was just fantastic to pull it off.
“Yesterday we really dug deep, and we took some valuable seconds. We knew we had some seconds on the climbing group. The stage win gave us a lot of momentum, and we started to believe we had a chance to win the race. The whole team rode great. The guys picked me up during the week.
“Last year I was a lot more ecstatic because I felt like I made a big step. I feel like I am maturing more as a rider, and that’s so exciting.
“I want to dedicate the win to him (Mathew Hayman). He’s been a fantastic team mate, a lot of my victories have come with Maty. To let him go out this way, we were going to celebrate his career anyway tonight, but to win the race overall it’ll be a double celebration.”
Tour Down Under – Stage 6 Results:
1. Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) 3:30:14
2. Wout Poels (Team Sky) ST
3. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
Tour Down Under – FINAL General Classification:
1. Daryl Impey (Mitcheton-SCOTT) 20:30:42
2. Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) +0:13
3. Wout Poels (Team Sky) +0:17