The Azerbaijan International Cycling Tour in Iran which starts on Friday will be the last that Daryl Impey is riding for Team MTN Qhubeka.
Impey has received a contract offer to ride for the German Pro-Continental Team, Team NetApp. Daryl will ride for Team NetApp for the first time at the end of May in the Bayern Rundfahrt (UCI 2. HC). Next month he might already be competing in the Tour of Switzerland racing shoulder to shoulder with some of the best ProTour-riders.
“My heart is split into two. It was certainly not an easy decision to make but obviously I want to race in Europe. My objective is to try and race all the Grand Tours one day (Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta Espana),” Impey said.
“It is really admirable of Douglas Ryder (MTN Qhubeka’s team owner) to release me. It shows a lot about his character especially that he is true to his word. “Right from the beginning Douglas made it clear that he would not stand in my way if I get an offer to race for one of the bigger teams in Europe.”
“I am pleased that we have been able to gain Daryl Impey for our team. Daryl is an all-rounder who will support the team in the demanding upcoming racing schedule. He is strong in tours, is an absolute team player and has proven to have a very stable form despite some turbulence in the last six months. We are counting on this morale and performance,” says Ralph Denk, Team Manager of Team NetApp regarding Impey’s signing.
“My special thanks go to Douglas Ryder, the Team Manager of MTN Qhubeka. He didn’t hesitate for a minute and released Daryl immediately to make the switch, despite his important role in the team,” Ralph Denk continues.
“I really owe Douglas a lot. In the beginning of the year when it became known that the Pegasus ProTour-deal had fallen through he was one of the first to throw me a helpline. It was not the first time that he has supported me in my cycling career.
“I really enjoyed my time with MTN Qhubeka. My teammates are amazing guys and racing for this team, that is all about providing opportunities to others, was truly special. Who knows what the future may hold. Maybe in a few years from now, if Douglas manages to base a team in Europe, I might be racing with some of my current teammates again.”
Ryder made it clear that he fully supports Impey’s decision to race in Europe.
“It could not have been easy for Daryl to drop from a Pro Tour level team (Team Radioshack) to our Continental team MTN Qhubeka. But he has been so positive with the level of racing opportunities we could provide him and so we are truly happy that he can go back to Europe and race at the highest levels in the sport once more.
Daryl has been a huge asset to our team both on and off the bike. As a team captain he led by example in his performances and hard training sessions and also in the professional manner in which he dealt with the media, race organizers, the public and MTN’s customers. His international experience and confidence has uplifted all our riders to believe in themselves and to take on big challenges. We will miss him, but wish him the best of luck with his new cycling career.”
Some of Impey’s highlights riding for MTN Qhubeka was winning the individual time trial at the South African Road Championship in Port Elizabeth; finishing third overall in the Cell C Tour of South Africa and second overall in the Tour du Maroc in which he also won a stage.
Daryl has raised thousands of Rands and will continue to support the Qhubeka Bikes for Life Initiative which gives children bikes to improve their quality of life in return for work done to improve the environment and community.
“MTN congratulates Daryl Impey and we can only wish him well as he takes on this exciting new venture in the international arena. It has always been a key objective of MTN/Qhubeka to develop the next World Champion or riders of an international calibre and Daryl definitely has what it takes to be just that.
“We thank him for the contribution he’s made to Team MTN/Qhubeka and wish him well with his new team. We’ll certainly be following his progress internationally,” said MTN Senior Manager: Sponsorship and Events, Bernard Pieters.