South Africa's Daryl Impey celebrates on the podium after winning the ninth stage of the Tour de France on Sunday. Photo: AP Photo/Thibault Camus

AUVERGNE – Daryl Impey became the second South African Tour de France stage winner since Robbie Hunter in Montpellier in 2007, as he out-sprinted companion, Belgium’s Tiesj Benoot, in the Auvergne region on Sunday.

Julian Alaphilippe retained the yellow jersey after turning in a solid performance on the roads of this region of France on Bastille Day.

“It’s great, it’s been a long time since I’ve worn the yellow jersey. It’s going to be well-appreciated back home, and it’s great for cycling in South Africa,” said Impey.

“This is my greatest-ever victory, just as good as wearing the yellow jersey, nothing can top this. It was a tough, solid day.”

Mitchelton-Scott rider Impey was involved in breakaway that separated them from the rest of the field and kept it going with the riders trailing them them and finishing 16 minutes behind.

Boasson Hagen won the intermediate sprint at Arlanc. (92km).

Roche and Benoot attacked from the leading group which was reduced to seven riders, but Impey came across and passed first at côte de St-Just with 13km remaining.

Benoot and Impey rode to victory 7km before the end while Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale), Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) and Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) attacked in the côte de St-Just but Team Ineos was prompt to bring them back. 

Benoot and Impey shared the turns to avoid the return of their former breakaway companions. Benoot took the initiative of launching the sprint but Impey proved to be the fastest. 

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The last victory of his Mitchelton-Scott team was with Michael Matthews in 2016.

Meanwhile defending champion Geraint Thomas finished well behind the leaders on the 170km stage.  

African News Agency (ANA)