By Mark Etheridge
South African cycling is riding high Down Under in Australia with great success for both Daryl Impey and Nicholas Dlamini.
Two-time Olympian Impey was the overall winner of the Santos Tour Down after Sunday’s final 90-kilometre stage which finished in Adelaide.
The final day’s action saw the stage being held over 20 laps in the Adelaide centre.
All 33-year-old Impey had to do was finish in the peloton for the Mitchelton-Scott rider to secure the overall victory on a countback from Richie Porte.
And there was more joy for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s Dlamini who won the King of the Mountains competition in only his first season on the World Tour.
The Dimension Data team also placed second in the team standings.
Said Dlamini: ‘It has been a great week for the entire team, everyone did what they needed to. I’m delighted to win my first leaders jersey in my first World Tour race.
‘I think I learned a lot in just one week of racing so going forward I think I will still improve a lot. As a team, this was a great start to our season and I feel we will also just get better as the season progresses.’
Dlamini won the King of the Mountains competition with 48 points, 12 clear of seasoned Aussie rider Porte of the BMC Racing Team.
‘Coming into the race I didn’t expect to win it but sometimes the stars line up and everything goes well,’ Impey told Associated Press after his biggest victory yet.
‘I worked really hard in the off-season so I’m happy to get this win.’
Impey said the final stage had been ‘pretty hectic’ as a number of riders battled to improve their overall finishing positions.
‘I’ve been in this position before with Simon (Gerrans), trying to protect the jersey for him, but it’s definitely more nerve-wracking when you’ve got the jersey yourself,’ he said.
Impey won a stage of the Tour De France and wore the yellow jersey for two stages in 2013.
He won the 2009 Tour of Turkey and the 2014 Tour of Alberta but Sunday’s win was his first on the World Tour.
He said the win, combined with Dlamini’s effort in taking the King of the Mountain title, was a boost for South African cycling.
‘There’s a lot more to expect from South Africans,’ he said. ‘I mean Nick in his first race, the whole of South Africa can be proud of him.’