“I’m happy to win the bunch sprint,” said Impey. “Obviously, it would have been nice if it had been the stage win. The field was tired today. Nobody could bring back the break.”
The sixth stage included four ranked climbs. The category two Passo della Cappella and three category three climbs combined with several unclassified ramps to create an undulating parcours. Impey described the day as more difficult than anticipated.
“We expected a hard start,” explained Impey. “I don’t think we expected the entire day to be as hard as it was.”
Orica-GreenEDGE put Jens Keukeleire in the early break. “Jens lost contact with the break on the first climb and rejoined us in the bunch,” noted Impey. “Our next card was to focus on [Matt] Goss, but the climbs were too much for a pure sprinter to be expected to get over. When we lost Gossy, the focus shifted towards me.”
As Rubiano attacked his breakaway companions up the road, Impey fought to stay with the peloton.
“I battled up those hills to get to the finish,” said Impey. “At first, we thought we’d take the gamble and hope someone else would take the responsibility for the chase. It soon became clear that everybody was tired, and no one had the strength to put enough guys on the front to bring back the break. We were all in the same boat. Nobody could do it.”
While Rubiano celebrated the stage victory, Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD) also had caused to celebrate. Crossing the line 41 seconds ahead of the bunch, Malori sprinted to second to earn the 12 second time bonus he needed to move into the pink leader’s jersey. Malori now leads the Giro d’Italia by 15 seconds over Michael Golas (Omega Pharma-Quickstep). Ryder Hesjedal sits two seconds further back in third.
“The next few days don’t suit us as much as a team as the opening week has,” noted Impey. “We’re saving our energy in the mountains and putting our effort into Gossy later on in the race.”
The South African has had an incredible first half of his season that included his first World Tour win.
“Things are coming together for me really well,” explained Impey. “I honestly believe my success stems from the team spirit and the support I get from the team. They get the best out of me because they put so much into me. With that kind of support, I feel happy, and that’s why I’m riding the way that I always knew I could.”
“I’m working really hard with the team trainer, Marc Quod,” he continued. “He has played a huge role in getting me where I am this year. I have never trained as hard as I am training now. Marc has put a lot of work and effort into me, and my results are a credit to him as well.”
Impey said the team is satisfied with their start to their first Grand Tour.
“We’re happy with how the first week has gone for us,” he said. “Up until now, we haven’t been off the podium with Gossy consistently sprinting in the top-three. We wanted a stage win, and we achieved that. We still want to win more, but we’ve definitely had a good start.”
“For me, personally, the first week has been as I hard as I had expected,” Impey added. “Today maybe was the first day that was much harder than I thought it would be. I kept trying, and I never gave up. I felt empty five times out there today, and I kept coming back. Anything is possible.”
Daryl Impey is blogging exclusively for Bicycling from the Giro. Click here to read his blogs.