Impey Secures Sprinters Jerseys and 7th overall
Tour Down Under 2015
Tour Down Under (TDU) is always a big race for the team and I. We have a huge fan base and it is a race we have been hugely successful at over the past few years. This year we were without Simon Gerrans (last years winner) who had unfortunately broken his collarbone in December and therefore our team plans changed and I was given the opportunity to lead the team in Australia.
I had done the work load back in South Africa and I felt ready to race and lead the Orica GreenEDGE boys. The race started off really well with my teammate Luke Durbridge grabbing 3rd place on the first day after a successful breakaway. Stage 2 around Sterling was a stage we had looked at and we knew it was a stage that would suit my characteristics and all the guys rallied around me for the day and set me up perfectly only to beaten by the Movistar Spanish rider Lobato on the slight uphill finish finishing 2nd and grabbing a valuable 6 seconds. The TDU is a tour that is always close and you need to grab as many seconds on offer each day as you can never predict what the next few days will bring. I was happy to get onto the podium but I really wished I had won that stage.
Stage 2 Sterling
Stage 3 was more suited to the climbers and the team set me up perfectly again and I just didn’t have the legs to follow the pure climbers to the finish, it was too steep for me but I hung on losing quite a few seconds which left me disappointed and I had felt that I let the team down slightly having moved from 4th overall to 10th . However, I wanted to make up for it on stage 4 and we did that by controlling the stage and grabbing some bonus seconds in the sprint primes along the way and then I had a decent sprint and managed second 2nd place in the sprint finish making the team and I really happy with the outcome of grabbing 9 seconds back and moving back into 4th overall. The team really dug so deep this day and we took the race by the scruff of the neck and this gave me another opportunity to try finish on the overall podium.
We were all motivated going into stage 5, the famous Willunga stage. It is packed with fans and is on par with any Tour de France stage, its electric. You can’t hear your own race radio, you push that bit extra, your legs are hurting but you somehow find the courage to dig that deeper. Also the climb is 3km long and averages around 7.5% ,I went well the year before grabbing 5th place so I had hoped to go better but on the day the pure climbers proved just too strong in the final km and I was left fighting all the way to the end trying to minimize any time lost. Pushing to the end secured me 7th overall and I remained the leader of the sprints classification. Richie Porte was simply on fire and in a class of his own on the final climb and won the stage while Rohan Dennis kept the leaders jersey by just 2 seconds.
Stage 6 was pretty straight forward for us, we wanted to gain some points and bonus seconds and hopefully move me up on the general classification and secure the sprinters jersey. The boys rode incredibly and I won the first sprint after they controlled the first part of the race securing the points jersey and then we decided to put everything on the finish. While I am not the fastest guy in the peloton , I knew with the lead out train we had we had a really good chance. Unfortunately, there was a crash 2 laps to go and we lost 2 guys from our train and we ran a little short at the end but the team still gave a fantastic lead–out and I hesitated one second too long while the other guys got the jump on me. I got back but simply got squeezed into the barriers and lost all momentum gaining 5th place just missing the extra bonus seconds on offer, however we secured the points jerseys and it was a nice consolation prize for the amount of work we did during the whole week. I finished 7th overall which I was happy with in the end against a strong climbing field this year. It felt great having the team back me 100% each day and hopefully next time we can walk away with a win as I feel we deserved it.
Winning the sprint classification
Overall, we had a successful week down under and it’s great to start the season off with some World Tour points, which is really important in qualifying extra riders for the 2016 Rio Olympics and putting the team off to a decent start for 2015. A win would have been nice but to be close on 2 occasions gives me great confidence ahead of my next race being the SA National Championships in Nelpsruit on the 5th and 7th February 2015.
Season 2015 is well under way now and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and building on what has already been a solid start to 2015.