Scott’s South African Daryl Impey is just 90km away from winning the general classification at the Tour Down Under after an outstanding second place at Willunga Hill.
The city streets of Adelaide should see Impey become the first South African to win the race in SA.
Impey, at 33-years-old, is a veteran of seven Tour Down Under starts in SA.
He is in the leader’s ochre jersey for the first time after wearing the prestigious yellow jersey for two days at the Tour de France in 2013.
That grand tour leader’s jersey was the last time Impey clutched the highest prestige for an individual in road cycling.
Only a disaster will take ochre away from Impey.
But it was a planned assault.
The South African claimed the Australian team had purposely downplayed its chances of one of its men claiming the GC before the 20th edition of the UCI World Tour race started on Tuesday.
The team said all it wanted to do at the Tour Down Under was to win stages which it achieved when Caleb Ewan claimed stage 2 at Stirling.
“I have always been loyal to Gerro (his former teammate Simon Gerrans, a four-time Tour Down Under winner) and to actually lead the race and have the boys support me the whole week it’s fantastic,’’ Impey said at Willunga Hill.
“I was confident, I’ve done it before but maybe not this way but also Caleb was a protected rider this year.
“Having said that there’s always a question mark and having a day like today is something special.
“We came with the objective of helping Caleb for sure but you know it was quite quiet that I was going to hold the GC.
“I have put quite a bit of (pre-season) work in South Africa and it really was a for me but we tried to keep it down low.”
Impey has long been a lieutenant of the Australian team since it made its WorldTour debut in 2012 but he skipped that year’s Tour Down Under when Gerrans claimed victory in a historic final stage when he was on equal time with Spain’s Alejandro Valverde.
Impey also invites Saturday’s stage 5 winner at Willunga Hill, BMC Racing’s Richie Porte, to have a go at cracking his lead in the tight city street circuit on Sunday.
Porte celebrated his fifth consecutive stage win at Willunga Hill but isn’t suited to the criterium race in the city.
“I still haven’t won anything,’’ Impey said.
“Jersey or no jersey the objective (Sunday) is for Caleb to win.”
DLAMINI CAN BRING HOME SOUTH AFRICAN DOUBLE
NICHOLAS Dlamini is on the verge of creating one of the greatest chapter’s of South African cycling if the 22-year-old can manage to hold onto the polka dot jersey by 3.30pm on Sunday in Adelaide’s city streets.
Dlamini hopes his pending jersey win — the biggest of his very young career — will inspire a new generation of South Africans that may look up to him for inspiration.
“The jersey really means a lot to me,” Dlamini said. “Taking the jersey back to Africa and the whole of South Africa is the most important part for me.
“Hopefully it will make all the other youngsters in South Africa start cycling but not only cycling, take on anything else in life.
“I hope it’s something to help motivate the people.”
Dlamini was discovered as a potential world class cyclist when he was just 17 five years after he wanted to join a bike club but couldn’t afford a bicycle or a kit when he was 12.
Born at the Capricorn Park settlement near Muizenberg in the city of Cape Town, Dlamini wasn’t handed anything on a platter and has worked extremely hard to make it to WorldTour status.
Now Dlamini is looming to be just the second known African rider to put on and hold onto a King of the Mountain jersey at a UCI WorldTour.
Eritrean gun Daniel Teklehaimanot became the first to win a polka dot jersey.
He did that at the Tour de France three years ago after two years with Dimension Data.
Now Dlamini appears to be the new mountain climbing hope of African bike racing.
He won hordes of new fans on Tuesday playing a major part in his World Tour debut.
He first claimed the king of the mountain jersey at Lyndoch after stage 1 pedalled off from Port Adelaide for the first time since 1999 — the Tour Down Under’s inaugural race.
He has managed to keep the jersey on his back since making his SA debut at the warm up race at in the city’s East End last Sunday.
Before stage 5 was away on Saturday morning at McClaren Vale Dlamini had banked 36 points before earning more valuable KOM points during the first climb at the old Willunga Hill.
He diced with Belgian Thomas De Gent from Lotto-Soudal after a brutal 129.1km in the saddle before doing enough to claim second place which saw him earn 12 valuable KOM points given Willunga is a category 1 climb.
“It was a hard stage and I just had to try to do my best,’’ Dlamini said.
“I knew it wasn’t going t be easy I just wanted to try.
“I was really stressing up the climb and I got some points.”