Impey bid to win tour title back to back
SOUTH Africa’s Daryl Impey is bidding to become the first cyclist to win back-to-back titles at Australia’s Tour Down Under as the race gets under way in sweltering conditions around Adelaide today.
Mitchelton-Scott’s Impey won last year’s UCI seasonopening event on countback from Australia’s Richie Porte for the biggest victory of his career, and went on to have his most successful season in 2018.
No one has won consecutive titles in the 20 years of the Tour Down Under.
But with only one arduous uphill stage finish this year, where last year he finished second behind Porte, Impey is primed for a repeat.
“Australia has and always will be important for us,” Impey said. “We would definitely like to win the Tour Down Under again and we are arriving to try to do just that.
“For me personally, it would be great to win back-to-back. No one has done that.”
The six-stage race takes place in the south of the country on the streets of Adelaide and through the surrounding countryside.
With extreme temperatures of 40C and above forecast for much of the event, race organisers along with team and rider representatives have decided to modify the race route for today’s opening stage. Based on the severe conditions forecast of buffeting winds the 3.4km (2.1-mile) finishing circuit will be removed, putting the total distance of Stage 1 at 129km, organisers said.
The tour begins with expected sprints on the three opening stages before the Corkscrew climb returns on stage four.
The signature climb on the tour up Willunga Hill has been moved to the final day, ensuring that the race for the ochre jersey will go right down to the wire.
Last year’s runner-up Porte, who stormed to a 48-second win over Colombian rider Esteban Chavez in the 2017 edition to claim his maiden victory in the race, has won the gruelling Willunga uphill stage for the past five years.
Slovakia’s three-time former world champion Peter Sagan is back again for the German Bora-Hansgrohe team.