The only South African to hold the leaders yellow jersey at the prestigious Tour de France, Daryl Impey, will return to South African shores to take part in the South African National Road Championships in Mbombela from 3-8 February. // Photo: Mylene Paynter / Gameplan Media.

The Orica-GreenEDGE rider has only been back in South Africa for a week since his involvement in the recent Tour Down Under but is glad that he is able to take part in his national championships again even if he isn’t quite in tip-top shape.

“Australia was great and I came really close twice to stage wins,” Impey explains. “It would have been nice to get a win but that’s how it goes and I am glad that I’m now back home to race!”

“I haven’t focused too much on time trial or one-day road racing recently so it will be an interesting race for me but I think condition wise, I am in a place where I can be competitive. It will be tough to win though.”

It has been a case of misfortune for Impey in the recent past at the national championships with a number of mishaps thwarting his charge in the road race and without a winners national jersey in that discipline to his name, he would love to add this year’s title to his three time trial national crowns.

“I have never managed to win the road race at the national champs and you could say that I have been a little unlucky with a broken chain last year and a bit of bad luck prior to that so there is a slight case of unfinished business for me and that’s something that I will try and set right this time around.

“You always want to win when you get out on the road but I am not going to put too much pressure on myself. I definitely want to do as well as I can when I get on the start line next week though!” he mentioned.

With the Tour de France on the horizon, Impey is currently working flat-out with his Australian based team and it is fortunate that the 30-year old has some time off to race in the event.

“It has worked out nicely for me this year that I am able to come back and ride in the national champs. It’s always great to be able to race in your national colours if you win here and to show some face at our national championships is something that I always try and do,” South Africa’s only Tour de France yellow jersey holder mentioned.

Competing on the Lowveld is something that is not foreign to Impey and the renowned cycling star has been able to win there previously as well. Impey is however reluctant to harp on those memories too much as he plans to clinch that ever-elusive road championships jersey this time around.

“Riding in Nelspruit (Mbombela) is not an unknown for me and I have competed and done quite a lot of training up there so I sort of know what to expect when I get up there but I don’t think that I can focus on what I have done there in the past too much.

“I won up there two years ago, so it has been a while and I am sure that there have been some changes to routes, etc. so I am hoping to go in there with a clear mind and see what I can achieve and I am really looking forward to it!” a relaxed Impey mentioned.

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