Daryl Impey. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/PETER MUNDY
Daryl Impey. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/PETER MUNDY

On July 8 during the eighth stage of the 2013 Tour de France, on the road from Castres to the finish at the A3 Domaines ski station, Chris Froome rode alongside his friend Daryl Impey for a spell.

Impey was spending his second day in the yellow jersey, the first African to have worn the colours of the Tour leader. Froome was favourite to win the day’s stage and the Tour. The road was headed up.

Froome told Impey they were going to go for the jersey that day. Impey shrugged. He knew it was going to happen.

Just more than seven years later, it was announced this week Impey would joining Froome at the Israel Start-Up Nation (ISN) team in 2021. Impey will be part of the team’s leadership group with an emphasis on assisting Froome in the 2021 Tour de France, possibly as road captain.

“I decided to make a fresh start. I feel like I need to step out of the comfort zone of Mitchelton-Scott,” Impey said in a team statement. “I had great success with the team, formed many strong friendships and made amazing memories. I can’t thank them enough for getting me this far in my career.” 

It brings to an end a successful nine-year relationship with Mitchelton-Scott that many believed would see the 35-year-old South African end his career with the Australian team.

Indeed, Mitchelton-Scott value Impey so much they had been hoping he would sign a contract extension with them. Indeed, there are reports from inside the team that they had still been holding on to the chance Impey would not leave.

Impey’s time at Mitchelton-Scott saw him twice win the Tour Down Under, take two stages of the Tour de France — an individual stage in 2019 and a team time trial in 2013 — and wear yellow.

“It certainly wasn’t an easy decision; I gave it a great deal of thought. But it’s exciting to work with a new team, with new energy and new ambitions,” said Impey.

“The most crucial reason is the challenge that is waiting for me at ISN. After speaking with ICA co-owner Sylvan Adams and the team’s management, I got the sense they see other aspects of me as a bike rider.

“I will have the opportunity to play a leadership role, and as a team captain I will be given more responsibility and a huge challenge at the same time.

“Team ISN has moved through the ranks very quickly and now it’s about trying to create a winning culture. I will use my experience over the past decade to instil this in the younger guys and make sure we are always progressing. I’m excited about it.”

Froome, who was teammates with Impey at the SA-sponsored Barloworld outfit from 2008 to 2009, was the driving force behind Impey moving to Team ISN.

“It’s not often you get to race with one of the greats in our sport, so when Chris called me and said he trusts me and would like to have me by his side I appreciated that and knew he meant it.

“I have known him a long time and our careers have nearly come full circle — we started out together at Barloworld and we are continuing at ISN. I know he can win another Tour de France, and it will be great to not only be part of that team but to play an important role,” said Impey.

“Daryl has shown in the past that he can be very valuable to a team, both in a support role and when going for personal results,” said ISN GM Kjell Carlstrom.

“In Daryl we have a rider who can be a leader in some races and a team captain in others. He’s also bringing with him a wealth of experience that we can benefit from.” 

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