Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

‘Not in my best condition’: Impey pulls out of Tokyo Games

Impey is expected to be replaced in the national men's road cycling squad, which also includes Nic Dlamini and Ryan Gibbons.

Falling short in a race against time to prepare for the showpiece, road cyclist Daryl Impey has withdrawn from the South African team for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Impey, who rides for professional outfit Israel Start-Up Nation, revealed on Sunday that he was still recovering from injuries sustained on the final stage of the Ruta del Sol in Spain last month, where he and Australian rider Robert Stannard crashed in a sprint for the line.

“I wouldn’t sleep at night knowing I wasn’t in the best condition possible to represent my country,” said Impey, who finished 40th in the road race at the 2012 London Olympics and 28th at the Rio Games in 2016.

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The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) and Cycling SA had been informed and Impey was expected to be replaced in the national squad announced last month, which also included Nic Dlamini and Ryan Gibbons.

“I wish the team success in their preparations and I am sad that I won’t be there, but making up the numbers or just pinning on a number is not what the Olympic Games are about,” Impey said.

“It’s about an opportunity to make someone’s dreams come true and I wouldn’t want to stand in the way of that happening.”

Daryl Impey

Impey, a two-time winner of the Tour Down Under, at last year’s World Tour race in Australia. Picture: Getty Images

One of the best riders in the country for more than a decade, Impey became the first African rider to wear the yellow jersey at the Tour de France in 2013, leading the race for two days, and in 2019 he won the ninth stage of the prestigious annual event.

A two-time medallist in the team time trial at the World Championships, with former team Orica Greenedge, the 36-year-old rider offered valuable experience in the national squad which will be missed.

A total of 130 riders from 57 nations are scheduled to compete in the men’s road race at the Tokyo Games, to be held on 24 July.

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