The rapid growth of Vine

Credit: Nero Continental

Jay Vine has moved from strength to strength since he started cycling regularly in the road races in the National Road Series for Nero Continental.

The presence of WorldTour riders was no deterrent for the 24-year-old from Canberra as he attempted a late move with seven kilometres remaining on the long climb to Falls Creek for Stage 2 of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.

Vine was re-absorbed into the group as the pace was increased by Team Sunweb to set up eventual winner Jai Hindley for the stage win. Vine hung tough to respond to the increased pace and managed to finish eight on the stage.

As he saw Australian Cycling Insider approach him to talk about how the stage had gone he joked, “Have you come to ask the idiot why he attacked a bunch of WorldTour riders?”.

“I made a bit of a fool of myself by attacking with seven kilometres to go,” said Vine. “I stayed away for about four minutes maybe then the ten or twelve riders left in the pelo came charging past so that was a bit funny.”

Vine attacked from an elite selection of climbers and quickly caught and passed Lachlan Morton (EF Education First).

“He was struggling, he went five kilometres before I did,” said Vine of the attack that took him past Morton. “It wasn’t steep and Mitchelton-Scott had three guys on the front. I got a really good sit during that period.

“It came up to the 270 degree turn and I came through that pinch and had kind of floated to the front and I thought ‘might as well go off’.”

Vine dug deep to finish a minute and one second behind Hindley, alongside top-tier climber James Whelan (EF Education First). While he conceded that he’d probably be higher up on the fight for GC if he hadn’t tried his solo move. The next big test looms in the finale of Stage 4, the mountain-top finish of Mt Buller.

“Now it’s about trying to recover, save as much energy tomorrow and go hard for Buller,” said Vine. “Buller is probably harder than this one. Three parts, steep, flat sit-in section and the final three kilometres is a bit of a pinch towards the end.

“Sunweb will be wanting to consolidate on that stage so it should be all together until those last three kilometres. All the rest of us should be there until that point.”

Vine has been a big part of the uptick in results that encouraged the team to make the leap to the UCI Continental ranks, which should afford more opportunities for the team to race overseas, as well as to qualify for the Jayco Herald Sun Tour. The Tour of the Tropics was the first in a sequence of strong results for the former mountain-biker that had him sitting as the overall leader in the National Road Series overall standings for a time.

“Pretty much since Tropics, this was sort of on the cards for the team.,” said Vine. “Ever since then, this stage and the Buller stage have been a big goal.”

Vine was a bit of a surprise packet in 2019, when asked if his progression in the sport was as surprising for him as others, Vine was open.

“Yeah, absolutely,” he said. “2017 August was my first race, Tour of King Valley. If you’d told me in two years time that I’d be racing with Simon Yates, Rob Power, all those guys up this climb… I would have laughed at you.”

Not many consider Vine’s career prospects a laughable proposition now and he’s marked himself down as one to watch.

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Written by Jamie Finch-Penninger