Daryl Impey made Tour de France history on Thursday by becoming the first African to take possession of the Tour de France yellow jersey. Germany’s Andre Greipel, of Lotto, dominated a bunch sprint to win the sixth stage of the race, held over 176.5 km between Aix-en-Provence and Montpellier, ahead of Slovakian Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and German Marcel Kittel (Argos). Britain’s Mark Cavendish, who claimed his maiden win of the 100th edition and 24th of his career on Wednesday, finished fourth having crashed with 34 km to race and battled to rejoin the peloton.
“It was a very nervous stage but I knew if we kept it together we could win this stage,” said Greipel, one of several sprinters out to grab a share of the glory normally enjoyed by Cavendish.
Impey, a South African who rides for Orica-GreenEdge, took over the race lead from Australian teammate Simon Gerrans.
“I’m really proud to be the first South African and the first African to wear the yellow jersey,” said Impey, who had been in second place overall since Orica-GreenEdge’s triumph in the team time trial on stage four. “Sometimes all the stars line up for you and this is definitely one of those moments. To wear the yellow jersey at the 100th edition of the Tour de France is just a dream come true. History has been made and I’m really excited. I’m sure a lot of people back in South Africa are really happy. To be able to say I wore the yellow jersey for just one day is something I will treasure forever.”
Impey, whose career was revived when he joined Orica on their inception in 2011 following an aborted move to the now-defunct Pegasus team, leads Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen of Sky by 3 seconds with Gerrans third overall at 5. Another Orica rider, Swiss Michael Albasini, is fourth on the same time while Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski, who is wearing the white jersey for the race’s best-placed rider aged 25 or under, is fifth at 6 seconds. Tour de France favorite Chris Froome (Sky), who was born in Africa but now represents Britain, is the best-placed of the overall victory contenders in seventh place at 8secs behind.
Friday’s seventh stage is a 205.5 km ride from Montpellier to Albi. The race’s first mountain stages will be held in the Pyrenees on Saturday and Sunday.
Impey added: “We’ve been really united since we took the yellow jersey and I think we can keep the yellow jersey for one more day.