What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZ Chats With Barloworld’s Darryl Impey

A lot of people are putting forward opinions about Darryl Impey’s (Barloworld & South Africa) horrific crash in the last stage of the Tour of Turkey. What should have been the Barloworld rider’s finest hour – finishing the last safely stage in yellow, to take his biggest ever win, turned into a nightmare; instead of champagne and celebration, there was pain and frustration.

Former world sprint champion, turned roadman, Theo Bos (Rabobank Continental & the Netherlands) is to appear before the UCI to explain his actions after allegedly bringing the 24 year-old South African down. The lynch mob has already picked a tree for Bos; but we thought that we’d best here what Darryl had to say – he spoke to us from his hospital bed in Johannesburg.

PEZ: A little background, first please, Darryl – how did you get into the sport?
Darryl: My father used to race, but that was back in the apartheid days, so there was no opportunity for him to race internationally. I got interested because of my dad’s involvement and rode just for fun, but the type of person I am, I try to do the best I can and it wasn’t long before I was racing.

PEZ: How did you get the Barloworld ride?
Darryl: That was largely due to Robbie Hunter, he spoke to Claudio Corti (Barloworld Manager) and I first rode for them last season (Darryl took a win in his first pro season, stage 6 of the Sun Tour in Australia) and of course this year, again.

PEZ: The Tour of Turkey gains in stature each year.
Darryl: It’s bigger than I thought it would be, the hotels were five stars and the food was awesome. There were some big teams there, the roads were good and so was the racing.

PEZ: And you had it won.
Darryl: I was in the right places at right time all the way through and it just fell into place; the team lost a few guys along the way but we had enough riders to defend my jersey. I also took a stage along the way on parcours where I’d never usually be expected to win – it was all going so well.

PEZ: What was in your mind on that last stage?
Darryl: There was no stress, I was enjoying the moment. I wasn’t contesting the sprint for the major placings, I was just keeping out of trouble because the finale was pretty confused, there were cars around and it got very hectic.

PEZ: What happened?
Darryl: Bos had pushed me before the crash, and then with maybe 750/800 to go I felt his hand on my shoulder; I don’t know what was in his mind but he took me into the barriers and we both went down. He got up and crossed the line, but I just lay there because I knew it was bad; I checked to see if I could move my arms and legs and I was thinking; “I’ve worked so hard, it can’t end like this!”

Then the ambulance arrived, they got me up and I thought that maybe I could walk to the finish, but there was no way, it was too painful, they got me on the bike and one of my team pushed me across the line. Once I crossed the line I just collapsed with the pain and it was straight into the ambulance; there was no time to enjoy my moment.

PEZ: What were your injuries?
Daryl: A broken vertebrae, a broken jaw, broken teeth, bad cuts to my mouth – I’ll be on a liquids only diet for six weeks, you can’t eat with a broken jaw, I can’t even enjoy meal.

PEZ: Getting home to South Africa must have been traumatic?
Darryl: A nightmare! It was a 150 K transfer from the hospital to the airport, I had to wait in the ambulance for a couple of hours at the airport, the flight was ten hours then it was back in an ambulance to the hospital, here in Johannesburg. I’m much happier to be lying here, rather than in Turkey, though – back among my friends and family.

PEZ: What are you thought about Bos?
Darryl: His hearing is this week and my feeling is that he should be suspended for as long as I’m out of action – that would only be fair. Whatever he says, he shouldn’t have taken his hands off the ‘bars in the sprint – you just don’t do that!

Bos is not only NOT out of competition right now…he’s winning. He recently took the win at the Ronde Van Noord Holland.

PEZ: Has he been in touch?
Darryl: He contacted me to say ‘sorry,’ but that doesn’t mean much to you when you’re lying with a broken back and jaw. It was a week-and-a-half before he got in touch, not straight after the incident, why did he take so long, why didn’t he come and see me when I was in hospital in Turkey?

PEZ: How’s the rehab coming?
Darryl: Everyone says I’m doing well, it just takes time. It’ll be six weeks ‘til I can ride, I’ll start back with a little gym work, just ease into things again.

PEZ: Do you think you’ll race again, this year?
Darryl: I’m hoping that if all goes well, I’ll be back for the late season stage races like the Tour of Portugal and our of Britain – it’ll just take time.

With thanks to Darryl for his time; we look forward to seeing him back in the peloton, where he belongs.

Like PEZ? Why not subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive updates and reminders on what's cool in road cycling?

Comments are closed.