Im­pey bid to win tour ti­tle back to back

NT News - - SPORT -

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.

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