In His Own Words: Daryl Impey on Tour of Oman Stage 4

Fri 15 Feb 2013

The queen stage of the Tour of Oman promised an epic showdown on the slopes of Green Mountain. The fourth stage finale featured the only summit finish over the six days of racing. While the overall contenders battled up ahead, Daryl Impey quietly but confidently passed rider after rider en route to 16th place on the stage, 1:40 down on stage winner Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha). The South African is now 14th on the overall classification, 1:46 behind Chris Froome (Team Sky). In his own words, he describes his day.

The race started at a quick clip. A lot of the teams with overall ambitions wanted to have someone up the road so they weren’t forced to chase. This made for a fast, hectic start with constant attacks. Eventually a five rider move broke away from the bunch. The peloton allowed Brent Bookwalter (BMC), Gregory Rast (RadioShack Leopard Trek), Gatis Smukulis (Katusha), Andreas Schillinger (NetApp-Endura) and Matthias Friedemann (Champion System) to open up an advantage, but with a few really strong riders up the road, it was a hard and steady pace all day.

ORICA-GreenEDGE didn’t come to Oman with any overall ambitions. We always want to give it our best, but we understand that with the quality of this field, we were never in contention on the general classification. None of us can climb with the big guys. Without the overall in mind, we’re focused on stage wins – and while I was never under the impression that I’d be a big factor on today, I wanted to give it my best for my own long terms goals. I’ve felt strong this week, and I wanted to test myself up Green Mountain.

The team did a lot of good work for me. Cookie [Baden Cooke], Gossy, Jens [Keukeleire], Sam [Bewley] and Fumy [Beppu] – they all did a great job to position me in the front at the bottom of the climb. It was almost a sprint into the climb. The break was still up the road at that point. We swallowed them up shortly after we started up Green Mountain. There was a bit of peace after that and then the climbers came to the head of the race. It was a different ball game once they started firing their attacks.

I’m not built for this type climbing, and I know I’ll never be able to match the pure climbers. So, I took it at my own pace, and I started passing riders as I churned away. It gave me a lot of motivation every time I overtook another rider. Eventually, I came across the line in 16th. I’m happy with the ride I did today. It was a worthwhile exercise. It’s good training for the races I have coming up in the next few weeks.

People seem a bit surprised to see where I’ve finished on these hillier stages, but I’ve always been quite versatile. I came to GreenEDGE as one of the guys meant to help Gerro [Simon Gerrans] on this type of terrain. I did a decent job at that last year. Then, when I entered the Giro, the team found that I’m useful in the lead out as well. My role in the team shifted after that discovery. I’m not the best at anything, but I can do a little of everything, and I’d like to think I’m quite useful to teams in that regard.

The South African National Road Championships are at the end of the month, and I really wanted to work hard this week as part of my preparations for the champs. I’m only racing the individual time trial as the road race is too close to Tirreno-Adriatico, and I’ll need to fly out to Italy ahead of the road race. I’m aiming for gold in the time trial.

It’s not just the championships that I have in mind. I’m thinking about Tirreno and Milan San Remo already. I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone here, and that’s a good thing. I think about San Remo - sure it’s a sprinters race, but think about the guys that have won it recently. They’re all very versatile riders.

We all remain impressed with the quality of racing here in Oman. It’s been an interesting few days. There are the flat days, the days with rollers and the real mountain top finishes. It doesn’t suit just one kind of rider. It’s really the perfect sort of race for this time of year.