A spectacular final stage of the Santos Tour Down Under has seen South Africa’s Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) become the first ever back-to-back champion in the
Australian event’s 21-year history.
For the second year running, Impey claimed the opening UCI WorldTour race of the season. He clinched his latest victory after finishing third on the crucial ascent of Willunga Hill, the race’s last stage and summit finish which was won by Richie
Porte (Trek-Segafredo) for a staggering sixth time in his career.
Overall Porte also claimed the runners-up spot in the Santos Tour Down Under for the fourth time, with third place going to Team Sky’s Wout Poels.
"Every year we come here with a strong team with big ambitions, and this year when they said they would back me with a full team to hopefully go ‘back-to-back’ I thought it would be nice,” Impey said afterwards, “but I knew how
tough the competition always is at the Tour Down Under.
"But I believed in myself, and the team believed in me, and it's been just fantastic to pull it off.”
Impey paid tribute to overnight race leader Patrick Bevin, who moved into the top spot overall with a win on stage two. However, the New Zealander crashed badly on stage five, and although able to continue racing, having defended the jersey for four
days, Bevin was dropped quickly on the first ascent of Willunga Hill on Sunday - and out of GC contention.
"I felt sorry for Paddy," Impey said. “I was looking forward to having a nice battle with him, and it's very sad that he wasn't in his best condition due to his crash.
"He's definitely been the most consistent rider in this bike race and would have been a really deserving winner as well."
Whilst Impey made race history with his double victory, another top name celebrating triumphs for two years in a row in the Santos Tour Down Under was Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe). On stage three, the triple UCI World Champion claimed his second straight
win in the town of Uralda, the same finish where Sagan had triumphed in 2018. Meanwhile, Elia Viviani (Deceuninck- Quick Step) also hit the bullseye in Australia, taking the opening stage in Port Adelaide, the Italian’s 68th victory of his
The 2019 Santos Tour Down Under was also witness to the retirement of former Paris-Roubaix winner Mat Hayman (Mitchelton-Scott).
A hugely valued and versatile team worker who played his usual key support role in the Santos Tour Down Under - on this occasion for Impey - Aussie veteran Hayman finally hung up his wheels on home soil at the end of a career stretching
back to 2000. He bowed out with the satisfaction of seeing a team-mate clinch the overall win in his last ever race, and safe in the knowledge of a job well done to the very last turn of the pedals.
As Hayman himself put it afterwards, “I can’t think of a better way to retire.”
Following the Santos Tour Down Under, the UCI World Ranking has seen no major changes, with no switches of position for the top 20-ranked riders. As of January 20th, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) therefore continues to head the ranking with 4,168
points ahead of Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), with 3,160 points and Viviani, with 3,116. Belgium remains on top of the World Ranking in the Nations classification ahead of France and Italy.
The next UCI WorldTour event will be the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race
on Sunday January 27th. Many of the top names from the Santos Tour Down Under will be taking part in Australia’s biggest one-day event, with Impey set to be one of the big favourites, as well as last year’s victor, Jay McCarthy (BORA-hansgrohe).
Will we see another repeat success?