While a 14th-place finish in Stage 6 of the 2013 Tour de France isn’t all that impressive, Thursday’s run for Team Orica-GreenEDGE’s Daryl Impey was enough to gain him the yellow jersey and the overall lead in the classification.
Impey became the first African cyclist ever to wear the yellow jersey.
The South African star has never found as much success on the tour as he is right now (his second time in the Tour de France), and with momentum building after taking the overall lead, the expectations for Impey are through the roof.
It’s win-or-go-home for the talented cyclist in his breakout season.
Impey told BBC what taking the yellow jersey means for the South African native:
This is a special day, a dream come true for me and the whole South African community. Simon got in the jersey because he won stage three (although he did not take over as race leader until after Orica GreenEdge won the team time trial on stage four) but it's been in my reach and seeing him lead me out today shows what a great rider he is. He could easily have sat on the wheel and kept the yellow. I was the last man to lead out Matt Goss for the sprint and that left me in a good spot.
The race winner for Thursday was Germany's Andre Greipel, who stole the Stage 6 victory from Slovakian points leader Peter Sagan and third-place finisher Marcel Kittel. While Impey’s 14th-place finish is startling to some fans, it was a sign of the course the racers were on.
Impey has never been one of the elite riders on the flat stages, but with plenty of chances for the South African to show his strength and speed in the hill and sprint sections of the race, there are still ample opportunities for the cyclist to take the overall race victory.
While it won’t be easy in a field full of mountain-stage aces, this is Impey’s time to shine.
The pressure of the event may eventually get to the young rider, but wherever Impey ends up finishing in the world’s most famous cycling race, he has made a serious impact on the South African community.