Impey looking for another taste of history at the Tour Down UnderFri 13 Dec 2019
Back-to-back and defending champion Daryl Impey will return to the Santos Tour Down Under in January next year looking to take another piece of history at the Australian WorldTour event.
In 2019, Impey became the first rider in the race’s 21-year history to successfully defend his 2018 overall title. Whilst another successful campaign would leave Impey one short of former Mitchelton-SCOTT teammate Simon Gerrans’ four victories, the South African would be the first to win three editions consecutively.
“I think my chances are as good as all the other favourites and it's about making certain stages count to put myself in a position to win it,” Impey said. “It is harder because you have a target on your back, but when your form is good enough, it's still down to who has the best legs in January.”
“All I can do is work as hard, if not harder than previous years. No doubt there will be a time where I won't win it, it may be this year or it may not, but I try not think about it. Earlier this year I went in giving my best and the same will happen next year too.”
A familiar build-up:
Despite returning later in the year than previous seasons, Impey is enjoying a familiar final leadup to the Tour Down Under in South Africa.
The 35-year-old, who won his first stage of the Tour de France this year, will fly into Adelaide ahead of the race, which begins on the 19th of January, with as much motivation as ever.
“My preparation is going quite well, especially since I started differently to the past,” Impey explained. “Normally I am in South Africa in October already, but this year I spent more time in Europe to relax more from a busy season and only arrived in mid-November.”
“It takes a lot of effort to be ready in January and it's quite challenging because all my family and friends are starting to relax before Christmas, while I'm trying to build for TDU. I have a big support structure with my wife making sure I can tick all the boxes and focus on my training so it's easier when you have that.
“I get motivated because I know I have six other guys from the team working their arses off in December too, and it's a race I love, so for me it's pretty simple. It is getting harder each year but the last Tour Down Under really gave me such a big lift for the season.”
A challenging parcours:
The 2020 Tour Down Under begins with the traditional criterium on Sunday, before official racing is underway on Tuesday, 21st January.
Three challenging finishes in Stirling, Paracombe and Willunga add additional challenges for a puncheur like Impey but the back-to-back champion, who claimed his two titles by countback and just 13seconds, is positive about the course
“I am glad Stirling is back,” Impey admitted. “I have never quite managed to win that stage but have been close in the past. It’s probably one of my favourite stages.”
“Paracombe is tough and it will test me as well as many other rivals similar to me, so we will need to wait and see. I will go all-in to save as much time as possible and assess afterwards what to do. I will prepare slightly different for that type of effort, and hopefully be able to manage them. For me that's going to be a huge decider in the overall winner.
“Overall, it is more suited to climbers, so it will be tougher for guys like me. You will need a stage win in the bag to be able to fight for the win. Willunga is always special and I hope to be going for the overall victory still on this day.”
2020 Santos Tour Down Under – Stages:
Sunday, 19 January: Schwalbe Classic - Adelaide, 51km
Tuesday, 21 January: Stage 1 - Tanunda to Tanunda, 150km
Wednesday, 22 January: Stage 2 – Woodside to Stirling, 135.8km
Thursday, 23 January: Stage 3 – Unley to Paracombe, 131km
Friday, 24 January: Stage 4 – Norwood to Murray Bridge, 152.8km
Saturday, 25 January: Stage 5 – Glenelg to Victor Harbour, 149.1km
Sunday, 26 January: Stage 6 – McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill, 151.5km
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.