Australian cyclist Jay Vine – UAE Team Emirates leader – has won his debut Tour Down Under despite finishing second on the last stage.
Vine acquired his World Tour contract during Covid-19 in 2020 after winning the academy program on the popular Zwift online cycling platform.
Securing the leader’s ochre-coloured jersey on stage 3 was a vital piece of Vine’s victory, but it all came down to the final day of racing along a 112.5km route from Unley to Mount Lofty.
The mountain made its debut as the stage finish in the tour on Sunday, Vine entered this final challenge with 15 seconds on his competitors.
British rival Simon Yates – Team Bikeexchange – tried to starch him with a late burst of pace, but Vine responded with equalling tenacity and pipped him for overall time sealing his victory upon the conclusion 11 seconds ahead of Yates. The hardened pair proved to be the strongest climbers on the decisive ascent.
Vine modestly clarified his game plan during the final stage: “Follow Yatesy, follow Yatesy, follow Yatesy, follow Yatesy. And then once we got over that last crest, I was like, okay, well, I can’t lose 15 seconds from here. So yeah, I might try and sprint – and that didn’t go well.”
“THEY CAN CERTAINLY GET A MUG LIKE ME IN MY DEBUT TO GET AROUND THIS COURSE.”
UAE TEAM EMIRATES LEADER, JAY VINE
— Jay_Vine (@JayVine3) January 20, 2023
Spaniard Pello Bilbao – Bahrain Victorious – secured third place just 27 seconds behind Vine. Magnus Sheffield – Ineos Grenadiers – finished fourth overall, and Mauro Schmid – Soudal-QuickStep – in fifth. Ben O’Connor – AG2R Citroën – finished just two seconds back but moved up the overall standings to sixth place.
Being crowned atop the peak of Mount Lofty against the backdrop of Adelaide city’s skyline is certainly something that could get to your head, but Vine was ‘nobly’ humble in victory, sharing his win with the team:
“It was just the confidence in knowing that they’ve (UAE Emirates Team) done all this before, they can certainly get a mug like me in my debut to get around this course.
“It was just fun riding my bike and racing, like that was really proper good fun.”