Impey's long wait for SA road race title ends

Winning the South African national road race title is the second major win for Daryl Impey in 2018 after he rather surprisingly claimed the Tour Down Under overall crown. EPA/DAN PELED

Daryl Impey's golden summer continued when won his first-ever South African national road race title in Oudtshoorn on Saturday, 10 February.

In so doing, the 33-year-old Mitchelton-SCOTT rider became a double national champion as on Wednesday he won his seventh national time trial title.

Of course, these titles follow his exploits in the Tour Down Under in January, where he took the overall victory in the opening UCI World Tour Race for 2018.

What made Impey's national title win more significant is that he was invariably outnumbered by the contenders from Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka -- whose riders have held a strangehold on the title since 2013.

As it happened, Impey made the best of a make-or-break moment during during the 153km-long race.

A group of eight riders established the first breakaway of the day before Impey bridged across in a small group after 50km of racing. However, a touch of wheels took down five riders from Africa's Team -- Kent Main who headed to hospital, as well as Ryan Gibbons, Nicholas Dlamini, Nic Dougall and Stefan de Bod -- which left a reduced leading group and played to Impey's advantage.

"The race split quite easily. I put it in the gutter and we rode across to the leaders in a group of about 12 guys and there was six or seven Dimension-Data riders there. One guy touched my wheel and actually brought down four of them (Dimension-Data riders) and left just four of us to ride across," Impey said in Mitchelton-SCOTT report.

Jaco Venter, the 2016 national champion, nationally avoided befalling the same fate as his teammates to stay with Impey initially... only to then puncture.

The eventual champion seized upon Venter's bad luck with a little help from the phalanx of Under-23 riders racing hard for the title.

In the closing stages, Impey had only Dimension Data's Jacques Janse van Rensburg (the 2015 champion) and Jason Oosthuizen (Barzani Pro Cycling) for company. In truth though their chances were not very good considering his sprinting prowess.

And so it happened, that with a few hundred metres left Impey left them in his wake with his joy palpable as he crossed the line having placed second on three previous occasions (2009, 2014 and 2015).

"It feels so good to win, I have lost a few championships after some bad luck so it was about time luck was in my favour. It is a nice relief to finally get the jersey, you always have these races that you want to win and finally I can tick off this one," Impey enthused.

"I knew once we were just three out front, from that Jason had had a good ride but was a bit spent and that Jacques isn't really known for sprinting so I was fairly confident I could take the victory then."

Janse van Rensburg took home the silver medal with Oosthuizen the 3rd rider across the line but also the first u23 rider, and therefore winning that title.