“There was a lot more confidence in myself. I just enjoyed today. Today was such a fun day.” Jay Vine’s time has come. After the first Vuelta stage win, comes fresh energy, self-belief, climbing points, a polka-dot jersey and another victory at the top of a long climb that made the GC specialists suffer.
Jay Vine announced himself to all in stage six when he rode away from an elite group of riders with 10 kilometres to race to the first mountain-top finish of the 2022 Vuelta a España. On Thursday, there wasn’t much to see through the thick fog that covered the climb to Pico Jano, but what became clear is that it wasn’t the 26-year-old’s relative anonymity that allowed him to claim a fine win.
He later said he was “lucky” that he had lost time early in the Vuelta, that this paid off by allowing him a little more room to move. And while there is some truth in that, by stage eight everyone knew the name Jay Vine.
He didn’t just win atop a steep mountain, he kept the best in the race at bay; they couldn’t make inroads into his gains going up in the mist of Pico Jano… and after stage eight they will be marking him even closer than before.
Vine has climbed a steep gradient at the end of a Vuelta stage again. He has done so with force and conviction and with a new-found confidence. While others were suffering on the road to Colláu Fancuaya on Saturday, he was smiling and having fun.
Before sealing his second stage win in three days, Vine had already collected climbing points… five were added after 10km at Alto de la Colladona when he was first over the top. Another five points were gained at Mozqueta after almost 50km of racing. Three more at Santo Emiliano after 66km, five more at the Puerto de Tenebreo (98km), five more at Perlavia (113km)… and then 10 more for good measure when he arrived at the finish of the 153km stage.
Stand proud Jay Vine, you are the new King of the Mountains and already looking likely to become the third Australian to win the Vuelta’s polka-dot jersey!
Vine has 40 points, more than double the next-best rider in the climbing classification, Marc Soler (16pts) and 28 more than another of his escape companions from stage eight, the much more credentialed mountain specialist Thibaut Pinot.
It was all part of a two-tier plan that paid of perfectly on Saturday in Spain. Vine wanted to climb into the lead of the mountains classification but that was the second priority for the stage. Really, he just wanted to win again.
He’s done it before and now he would do it again. And once he had begun the final attack inside the last six kilometres of the stage, a second victory never looked in doubt.
Once again, Vine has won on a mountain top on the day when the GC riders were expected to shine. There was indeed a ferocious battle for time amongst the title favourites, but that all happened behind the new climbing King from Alpecin-Deceuninck.
Vine told the story of the stage well in his post-stage interview with Jean-François Quenet. His comments below summarise how he saw the race on a day when he turned from “lucky” to confident. He is having fun. He is inspired. And he seems very likely to wear the crown all the way to the finish of his second Grand Tour.
Vine’s stage summary…
“At the start – literally on the first climb – I thought, ‘Oh, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to stay away. They seem to be chasing us pretty intently…’ So, I decided to target the first couple of KOMs. Then, in the valley, we had a really group. FDJ had three guys in the group and Quickstep were just controlling.
“From that point on I went, ‘Okay, if I can get the KOM points without too much of struggle, I’ll go for them…’ but the stage was definitely still the main goal.”
“Lutsenko did a starting move and I was sort of in the wheels so I decided to follow. After he pulled off there was no indication he was going to do a second attack or anything like that. So I decided, ‘It’s about a 25-minute effort from here – similar to what I did two days ago.
“I decided to keep the pressure on and, after about a minute and a half I looked down and there was no wheel and I forced myself to get to the next hairpin and after that hairpin I looked back and there was no one.”
“It’s incredible. I think I’ve got so much more confidence after that first one. I got that monkey off my back.
“It just felt so much more natural. Riding in the group today, all the pressure was off me. I had two goals and if one didn’t pay off I always had the KOM jersey to fall back on.
“There was a lot more confidence in myself. I just enjoyed today. Today was such a fun day.”
– By Rob Arnold