Daryl Impey Interview: Big season with Orica GreenEdge
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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Daryl Impey Interview: Big season with Orica GreenEdge

by Ed Hood at 9:04 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
South African back to winning with Australian WorldTour team

Daryl ImpeyDaryl Impey will always be remembered as the rider who suffered a horrific crash in the final metres of the Presidential Tour of Turkey in 2009 with the yellow jersey on his back – the podium substituted for an ambulance, that day.

But ultimately the South African fought back from his injuries, and has moved on to a new level this year. Riding with the GreenEdge Orica team, he’s taken part in the Giro d’Italia, clocked up WorldTour success on a stage of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco and, yesterday, grabbed his second win of the season on stage two of the Tour of Slovenia.

He beat race leader Simone Ponzi (Astana), Diego Ulissi (Lampre-ISD) and the rest of the front group to the line, showing he is in impressive form. While his GreenEdge team has given no indications as yet about which riders will make the Tour de France team, his wins would appear to put him into contention.

Impey’s path has been a complicated one, with his story showing the value of persistence. After his bad crash in Turkey, he faced a period of time away from the sport while he recovered, then his Barloworld team folded. He seemed to land on his feet with a contract with RadioShack for 2010, but at the end of that year he was unable to find a new WorldTour team deal.

He had signed with Pegasus Racing but that team collapsed before it even began. Fortunately the South African MTN Qhubeka team gave him a lifeline, albeit at Continental level. It was a homecoming of sorts, as MTN were the team he originally turned professional with in 2007.

His 2011 results with that squad – including a stage win and second on GC in the Tour of Morocco - saw Pro Continental squad NetApp offer him a mid-season contract, then in the autumn it was back to the top division when he signed with fledgling Australian Pro Tour team, GreenEdge.

He’s risen to the challenge of competing again at the top level. In April of this year, the 27 year-old from Johannesburg grabbed his first World Tour win on the second stage of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco.

His remarkable ‘rebirth’ continued in this year’s Giro d’Italia as he achieved his ambition of riding a Grand Tour. It was a proud moment for him, even if the team ultimately decided to take him out of the race after stage sixteen. The early finish means that he didn’t go too deep, and he should have good reserves if he is selected for the Tour.

Impey spoke to VeloNation prior to the Tour of Slovenia, speaking about his Giro experience and more.

VeloNation: What did you expect from your first Grand Tour, Daryl?

Daryl Impey: I was a little concerned about how my body would react to a Grand Tour; but my role was a team one – to provide support for Matt Goss and I was surprised that I fitted in so well.

I got a couple of opportunities of my own and whilst there were days when it was just about survival, it was a lot of fun.

VN: What was your longest race prior to the Giro?

Daryl ImpeyDI: In 2008 I rode the Volta in Portugal with Barloworld; and I’ve ridden races like the Tour of Morocco, which is ten days – but nothing compared to the Giro.

The fans in Denmark were really nice and the tifosi are just so passionate. The stage starts and finishes are so special, too. We had good hotels and the food was good – I really enjoyed it.

VN: You had some strong placings, sixth on stage six; tenth on stage nine and on stage sixteen you were top 20.

DI: I gave it my all on stage 16 because it was really the last stage which suited me – there were mountain stages and a fast stage for the sprinters between there to Milan.

The team didn’t think there was any point in me killing myself in the mountains.

VN: What was the high spot of the race?

DI: Gossy’s stage win in stage three in Horsens…we came over the top of everyone with a kilometre to go.

That’s a long way out and it was touch and go, but we were all really motivated.

It was the first time we’d ridden together, very exciting – Tomas Vaitkus was on my wheel, then Brett Lancaster, who was last wheel for Matt.

It was one of the best days of my career and a really good way to start out with our new sponsors.

VN: And low point?

DI: Stage 14, I had bad legs from the start – it was ‘one of those days’ we all expect to have in a Grand Tour.

The hardest stage was probably stage six, it was the first day it was really hot and the race got off to a fast start.

In the mountains you can go in the gruppetto and save your legs, but six wasn’t that kind of stage.

VN: When Matt Goss climbed off after stage 13, did that affect team morale?

DI: Not really…whilst our role was to look after Matt on the early stages, it meant we had our own opportunities.

We didn’t lose morale – we’re not a climbing team so we just made the best of opportunities as they arose. The team achieved our objectives for the race, so we were satisfied.

VN: Goss had a sore crash into Frosinone.

DI: That was the one where Ventoso won – it did take it out of him, yes. You feel the effects of a crash like that two or three days later – Cav’s hard enough to beat without trying to recover from a bad crash whilst you’re doing it!

VN: How did you come out of the Giro?

Daryl ImpeyDI: I didn't really any weight; I was pretty lean when I went in to it. I took a small break – one of your aims after a long race is to remain healthy – and I put on a little weight, but that’ll soon come off.

I’m riding the Tour of Slovenia and then we’ll see how my programme pans out – I hope to ride the Olympics, but that’s down to the Federation.

Late season, I’d really like to ride the Worlds and Lombardia

I wasn’t in a box when I left the race, so I thing we’ve got the programme pretty much right for me.

VN: Do you have a coach, Daryl?

DI: The team coach is Mark Quod; he’s changed the way I train. I think I used to smash myself too much then think; ‘I’m tired, I better have a day off!’

There’s more recovery now and we’ve been working on on my sprint and longer efforts.

VN: From Continental team to the Giro in a year…you must be pretty satisfied with that?

DI: It’s been a tough road but it’s great when the sacrifices pay off. That stage win in Pais Vasco made me very happy.

I give myself a pat on the back when I achieve a goal, but I definitely always take time to appreciate the team and the people who have supported me in getting to where I am now.


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