“It’s all a little surreal yet a dream come true”said Daryl Impey who has become the first African and South African to wear the leader’s yellow jersey ( Maillot Jaune) in the 100th edition of the Tour de France after he had powered his way to the stage finish in Montpellier.This morning Daryl said “ I still can’t believe it, to lead the Tour de France is a dream come true, thanks to the amazing Orica GreenEdge boys for this opportunity”.
What a week it has been for his Orica-GreenEdge team and what a week for Daryl.Whilst Robert Hunter was the 1st South African to win a stage in the Tour de France at the same finish in Montpellier in 2007,Daryl won his 1st stage this week in the team time trial which resulted in his teammate and roomy Simon Gerrans wearing the yellow jersey, and then at the finish of yesterdays 6th stage into Montpellier he finished with a time split in front of Simon to take the Maillot Jaune for himself.
Matt White who is one of the directors of Orica GreenEdge and a passed tour rider had this to say about yesterday’s stage “It was Simon’s idea, they’re good mates and that’s the sort of team we are. Simon just asked me if it was okay to give the jersey to Daryl tomorrow, and I said it was no problem at all,” he added, surely aware of the added publicity a change in leadership will bring for the team and the race as a whole.
However, White was keen to stress that yellow hadn’t been a gift, and that Impey, who had been in the Continental ranks less than two years ago, had earned the right to lead the race.“ People who would say that it was a gift have probably never done a sprint at the Tour de France before,” White said.
The reaction as well as the comments via twitter yesterday go a long way in showing us all what kind of a person Daryl is and how much respect he has from all and sundry. Lance Armstrong tweeted “happy for my friend Daryl and ex-teammate to see him in yellow on the podium”. Mark Cavendish tweeted “really nice to see Daryl Impey in the yellow jersey,proper nice guy,always friendly, always working hard”. Ryk Neethling tweeted “Well done to Daryl Impey, becoming the first African to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France”.
Stage 7 of this year’s tour starts heading towards the Pyrenees with the stage from Montpellier to Albi covering a distance of 205.5km.There are 4 climbs with the toughest being a Cat 2 climb in the middle of the stage.Look to Orica GreenEdge to try and defend yellow for another day and they may get some help from the sprinters teams to try and keep things together.Today’s stage will be the last for the sprinters over the next week.
Whatever the result, Daryl Impey has been on the top step of the podium and ridden in the maillot jaune in the biggest bike race in the world, it will change his life forever.