Daryl Impey had one of the most dramatic finishes on his route to winning the 45th Tour of Turkey on Sunday, but the South African cyclist could hardly celebrate his victory.
With less than 500 meters to the finish line in the Antalya to Alanya stage, the last of eight legs of the Presidential Tour, Barloworld team cyclist Impey hit the barriers and fell heavily to the ground, after Theo Bos had pulled him.
Impey suffered a broken tooth and cuts to his face, and could barely get back on his bike, with the help of teammate Gianpaolo Cheulo. Already wearing the yellow jersey and leading the race in the previous rounds, Impey managed to pass the finish line eight minutes 18 seconds after the stage winner Sebastian Siedler, but it was enough for him to keep his overall lead.
After the race, Impey was immediately taken to the private Alanya Can Hospital, where he was kept overnight. While undergoing medical checks, his teammates were accepting the trophy on his behalf.
A doctor in the hospital said that Impey’s injury was serious, however, not career-threatening.
"His injuries will not end his career, but I guess it will take two or three months to see him return to the sport," Dr. İsmail Yetkin said, adding that Impey’s spine and neck were damaged, too.
Dutch cyclist Bos was disqualified later after the referees decided that he deliberately caused Impey’s fall.
Visiting the champion in hospital, Turkish Cycling Federation, or TBF, chairman Emin Müftüoğlu said he was sorry that the tour staged such an accident in its last round.
"It is sad to see an accident in such a good organization," Müftüoğlu said. "The only consolation is that he did not have a fatal injury or his one that threatened his career. I wish Impey could enjoy his victory with his teammates."
Impey finished the eight-stage tour, the route of which spanned some of the most beautiful coastline of the Turkish Aegean and Mediterranean regions, in 29 hours, 19 minutes and 32 seconds. Quick Step team cyclist Davide Malacarne of Italy was runner up only one second behind Impey, while last year’s winner David Dapena Garcia of Spanish Galicia team was third with the same time.
England’s Barloworld wins teams’ competition
Barloworld won the team’s competition, while Ravigare was second and Quick Step came third.
Uğur Marmara was the highest-ranked Turk in 108 cyclists overall, as he finished 69th in 30 hours, 36 minutes, 13 seconds.
Despite being the oldest and most prestigious cycling event in Turkey, the Presidential Tour is only on its second year since the TBF decided to take the tournament to the next level, planning to make it a high-profile competition on the international calendar. Considering this target, the tour was a success, according to Müftüoğlu, who hopes that it will be bigger next year.
"The tour was completed successfully," he said. "It is getting more popular worldwide every year. We want to make it one of the most popular races of Europe."
Müftüoğlu believes that the Tour makes a great contribution to the country’s promotion. "We rate this Tour very highly," he explained. "This is one of the best ways to introduce Turkey to the world. It is a great opportunity to have the Tour broadcasted live on Eurosport two hours for eight days. People get to see the most beautiful parts of our country. We want to contribute to Turkish tourism, and I believe that we achieve that."