South African champion Daryl Impey stormed to his debut Tour de France victory in style on stage nine into Brioude.
On Bastille Day, the 34-year-old made it into the decisive break of the day and proved to be the strongest in the 15-man move, eventually taking the victory in a two-up sprint. The win means that Impey has been involved in each of the team's four victories at the Tour de France.
Back in the peloton, team leader Adam Yates rolled home safely in the bunch along with his Mitchelton-SCOTT teammates, but the day belonged to Impey who claimed his first stage win in his seventh Tour.
As expected, there was a battle to get into the breakaway as soon as the flag dropped with Mitchelton-SCOTT amongst the early attacks as European champion Matteo Trentin and Australian time trial champion Luke Durbridge got into various failed attempts.
In the end it was road captain Impey who made it into the decisive attack as 14-riders edged clear of the field. Seemingly happy with the make-up of the move, the peloton sat up and spread across the road, with the break of the day established. The group eventually grew to 15 as Marc Soler (Movistar Team) bridged across on the opening climb of the day.
The escapees worked well together and stretched their advantage out to over 10-minutes with the peloton content to let the group contest the stage win with no danger to the general classification. But with Impey in the group, along with other fast finishers, the rest of the escapees were keen to shed the South African before the finale.
With this in mind, riders began to attack over the penultimate climb of the day, but the initial move was quickly shutdown. It wasn’t long before the next attacks came as Lukas Pöstlberger (BORA – Hansgrohe) jumped away on an uncategorised ramp and with the rest of the break faltering in organising a chase, the Austrian was able to open up a gap of 45-seconds.
The pace in the chasing group proved to be too much for several riders in the break and group was halved as Pöstlberger was reeled back in on final climb. A counter move went immediately as Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) and Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb) attacked clear, leaving Impey in a small chase group behind. But as the summit approached Impey sensed the leading duo were edging away and the Tour Down Under champion attacked across to the pair.
The leading trio had a sizeable gap on the remains of the breakaway but knowing Impey was a danger in a sprint finish, Benoot attacked. However, the move could only drop Roche as Impey hauled himself onto the Belgians wheel and the duo raced clear of the dropped Team Sunweb rider. With just five kilometres to go it was clear the fight for the win was between Impey and Benoot, with the latter opening up the sprint as the line approached. However, the experienced Impey used his superior turn of speed to come around his rival and take a historic Tour de France stage win.
“That is pretty much for me, from the Tour de France perspective, something that was really missing and this is my seventh time riding the Tour de France. I’ve been in quite a few breakaways and to finally nail it today, it’s just a dream come true, I really don’t have any words.”
“It was a stage I kind of marked for a breakaway, yesterday was a bit unfortunate as the break went straight away and today we were pretty active, Luke and Matteo were active at the start. I just kind of found the lucky move, I didn’t have to do too much to get in there, then we all just worked really well together and I kind of just believed in myself and played it quite smart there at the end I think.”
“I haven’t actually been that emotional at the finish for a long time, so it’s fantastic to win at this level, the Tour de France. I think the last stage victory for South Africa was Robbie Hunter in 2007, so it’s been a long time between drinks and to win on Bastille Day that’s fantastic, that’s a magic memory.”
“This is a dream come true, this is something I really wanted to do and you know it’s so difficult at this level, so when all the stars line up like they did today, I can’t be any prouder, it’s fantastic and I know South Africa will be cheering on and thanks to my family as well, they’ve supported me the whole way through this.”
Matt White (Sports Director):
“Daryl has been a part of every Tour de France victory we’ve had. In 2013 he led Simon Gerrans out to win, in 2016 he led Michael Matthews out to win and he was 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.”
“We’d earmarked stage 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. When we saw the composition of the break 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’s probably four or five Tour de France stage winners in that group, so it was never going to be an easy win.”
“The crucial moment for Daryl’s win was when he bridged across and left the two fastest guys. Once he got across to the front group, that was one thing, but he was definitely the fastest guy to finish off the sprint.”
Tour de France 2019 Stage 9 Results:
1. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 4:03:12
2. Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) ST
3. Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Merida) +0:10