Fam­ily proud of Daryl’s yel­low jersey win

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - SAMEER NAIK

GRANT Im­pey re­calls the day his brother Daryl won the Pres­i­den­tial Tour of Turkey cy­cle chal­lenge in 2009. It was a bittersweet mo­ment for the Im­pey fam­ily. Though he had the yel­low jersey on his back, Daryl had also crashed badly, leav­ing him with a bro­ken jaw and a frac­tured spine in the fi­nal me­tres of the race. Paramedics patched him up and he crossed the fin­ish line in a neck brace.

That par­tic­u­lar per­for­mance summed up Daryl’s at­ti­tude to­wards cycling and life. He just doesn’t give up, says his brother Grant.

His hard work and de­ter­mi­na­tion showed this week when Daryl made Tour de France his­tory by be­com­ing the first South African and African to take pos­ses­sion of the Tour de France yel­low jersey.

Ger­many’s An­dre Greipel, of Lotto, dom­i­nated a bunch sprint to win the sixth stage of the race, held over 176.5km be­tween Aix- enProvence and Mont­pel­lier, ahead of Slo­vakian Peter Sa­gan (Can­non­dale) and Ger­man Mar­cel Kit­tel (Ar­gos), on Thurs­day. The 29-yearold Im­pey, who rides for Orica- GreenEdge, did enough to take over the race lead from his Aus­tralian team­mate Si­mon Ger­rans.

His brother Grant watched at work on live stream­ing as his brother re­ceived the yel­low jersey.

“It was a very spe­cial mo­ment for us as a fam­ily,” he said. “Daryl has not only done us proud but also done the African con­ti­nent proud.”

Grant said his brother had called him af­ter the race on Thurs­day night, and he could hear the ex­cite­ment in his voice.

“He was on cloud nine when I spoke to him,” he said. “I don’t think it had sunk in prop­erly by then, but he was over­joyed at what he had achieved.”

His fa­ther Tony said the fam­ily had cel­e­brated last night af­ter their son had been handed the yel­low jersey.

“We called a few fam­ily mem­bers over and opened a bot­tle of cham­pagne to cel­e­brate Daryl’s achieve­ment,” said a beam­ing Tony.

“We have al­ways been proud of Daryl since he was a young boy, but now we are more proud af­ter he achieved some­thing that no African has done be­fore.”

Tony, who was a pro cy­clist in his days and now owns a cycling shop at Bed­ford Cen­tre in Joburg, said the fam­ily had been in­un­dated with mes­sages of con­grat­u­la­tions from friends and fam­ily.

Tony said Daryl’s first bike was a BMX.

“Daryl has al­ways loved cycling, since he was a very young boy,” he said. “He got on to his first bike at six years old and ever since then he has never looked back and has grown from strength to strength.”

Joel Ng­wenya, who has ser­viced Daryl’s bikes for the last 25 years, said he couldn’t be hap­pier for him.

“I’ve known Daryl since he was a young boy, and he was al­ways an ac­tive boy who was pas­sion­ate about cycling, so I am not sur­prised by his achieve­ments,” said Ng­wenya.

Ng­wenya even has a per­sonal nick­name for Daryl, he calls him “Legstrong” Im­pey.

“The boy can ride a bike and has a very spe­cial tal­ent. I told his mom and dad that Daryl would one day ride among the best cy­clists in the world and now he is, so I am not sur­prised at all.”

Ng­wenya de­scribed Daryl as a friendly and loving boy.

“I haven’t once seen Daryl be­ing an­gry with any­one, that’s just not him,” he said. “He is a happy-golucky chap.”

Daryl, who stud­ied at Jeppe Boys High School in Joburg, will re­turn to South Africa in Septem­ber dur­ing his off sea­son to spend time with his fam­ily.

He lives in Spain with his cycling team.

His brother Grant said they look for­ward to hav­ing him back.

“Ev­ery­body fights for time with Daryl when he comes back to SA. I for one look for­ward to spend­ing qual­ity time with my boet when he re­turns.”

PIC­TURE: AP

PI­O­NEER: Daryl Im­pey, wear­ing the over­all leader’s yel­low jersey, and Andy Sch­leck of Lux­em­bourg, left, ride in the pack dur­ing the sev­enth stage of the Tour de France.

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