Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) has ridden into the history books by becoming the first African in the Tour de France’s yellow jersey today in Montpellier.
Before stage six, the South African sat on the same time overall with team-mate and race leader, Simon Gerrans. Impey placed higher on the stage than Gerrans to take the race lead.
“It will be a history-making moment, one of the greatest sport achievements for South Africa,” Impey said this morning before signing the start sheet.
“It would be a massive moment. If it does happen, I’ll be thrilled.”
Impey is highly placed thanks to leading out sprints and winning the time trial with Orica. He helped protect Gerrans’ overall lead yesterday, but Orica let him sprint clear to gain the publicity of what would be history-making moment.
“It would be a huge benchmark for African cycling if Daryl got the jersey. He’ll be riding in support of his teammate Simon Gerrans, but Impey is capable of doing it. I know many people back in Africa who’d be happy to see him in yellow,” Chris Froome explained before the stage.
Froome was born in Kenya before moving to South Africa.
“I’d be happy to see an African this far and into the yellow jersey. … We started on Barloworld together in the pro scene. It’s been good watching him; he’s come a long way and is one of GreenEdge’s strongest riders.”
With the Pyrenees on the horizon this weekend, sprint teams will be keen to keep the bunch together for a sprint today in Montpellier and tomorrow in Albi. Impey, by doing his job leading out Matt Goss, will placed high in the sprints.
Without an individual time trial and fractions of a second, the race jury decides the GC based on a rider’s placing in stages. It positions the rider with the lower accumulative placings higher. The current score is Gerrans 48 and Impey 55.
Impey made history in the same town that the first and only South African, Robert Hunter won a stage in 2007.
“I won’t lie to you, it’s on my mind,” Impey added before riding off. “It’s the same as yesterday, though, I’ll do my work and if the jersey does happen, it’s a great bonus, but the first objective is to keep it in the team.”