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So close for Impey

Winning back one second in a cycling tour can sometimes be as tough as conquering Mount Everest. The cyclists from MTN/Qhubeka found that out during the last two stages of the Tour du Maroc.

Try as they may they just could not outwit Mouchcine Lahsaini and his Moroccan teammates to gain a second and in doing so insure that Daryl Impey won the tour.

In the ninth stage Impey finished fourth and Lahsaini seventh. The Moroccan then turned the tables on Impey in the last stage finishing sixth with Impey in the seventh place but in both stages there were no time gains.

This meant that Lahsaini beat Impey in the overall competition by a mere second. Johann Rabie (Bonitas) was third, also a mere second off the pace.

Impey insured his overall second place finish by consistently outsprinting Rabie to the line. Despite not being able to pull off an overall victory it was still one of the best performances by the MTN/Qhubeka team this season.

Of the 10 stages MTN/Qhubeka won four. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Impey and Arran Brown (2) were the stage winners. Impey also finished second in the first stage while Brown was third in the last stage.

Brown insured with his consistent good performances in the bunch sprints that he won the points competition. Impey was second. Janse van Rensburg finished third in the king of the mountains competition while MTN/Qhubeka finished second in the team category.

One cannot help but wonder what the outcome would have been if it was not for factual mistakes in the Tour du Maroc’s ‘race bible’. Impey’s hopes of winning the tour overall were effectively ended by the incorrect information on stage eight which stated that it was to be a stage over 120 kilometers.

According to Brown their whole race strategy was based on racing 120km. So when Lahsaini got away in a break and kept on increasing his lead they were at first not too worried. Especially since he was more than four minutes off the pace.

ÔÇ£Our plan was to go to┬áthe front and do the hard work in the last 30km but then we got caught off guard when we suddenly saw a sign which indicated we are only 20km from the finish. By that time Lahsaini had a lead of nearly five minutes. Even though we paced flat out to the finish it was to no avail since we only managed to get back 90 seconds on Lahsaini.ÔÇØ

Brown is quite philosophical about not being able to win overall. ÔÇ£It is one of those things. When you race in Africa you should always be prepared for the unexpected. That is a basic rule for African cycling.

ÔÇ£The Tour du Maroc has been a tough but enjoyable challenge. What made it interesting is the fact that we had lots of different situations to deal with. It was certainly not easy to race against four Moroccan teams who worked together all the time to try and control the race.

ÔÇ£I am really proud to be a part of this team and I am really happy to see how we have pulled together as a unit. A team that is starting to work together to win races.ÔÇØ


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