Two Australians claimed victories in Europe overnight, with Jay Vine scoring his first Grand Tour stage victory on the first mountain-top finish at La Vuelta and Caleb Ewan winning a sprint in the Tour of Deutschland.


“It’s almost unreal,” said an elated Jay Vine as he sat in the clouds near the finish of stage six of the Vuelta a España. The winner on the first mountain-top finish of the 77th edition of the Spanish Grand Tour grinned as he answered questions from Jean-François Quenet, realising that he had finished off a bold team plan.

“At 70km, I missed the break,” Vine explained. “I had a flat tyre in the first five kilometres… and even though it was still the team’s plan that if it came back together for me to go on the final climb, it’s unreal to be able to do that. And to do that from the GC group is incredible.”

Jay Vine, the 11th Australian to win a stage of La Vuelta a España. (Photos: Sprint Cycling, via UniPublic)

Vine’s story is different to many, but it’s well known: a graduate of the Zwift Academy in 2020 – where the reward for a good performance on an indoor training app was a contract with a pro team – he has power and the ability to pace himself. He is a climber who has seized the chances that have come his way and at Pico Jano he demonstrated that he’s as good in the mountains as the best GC riders.

“I’ve been working towards this all year. After last year, coming so close, it’s like a dream come true.”



If you missed the action when it was broadcast live on SBS in the early hours of Friday morning in Australia, tune in to the highlights package and go to the final 10km of the race from Bilbao. You will see an emphatic effort from Vine in rotten conditions, and although the victory salute is missing from the coverage – because the fog was so thick that all you can see if mist – it will be a race that’s remembered fondly when he looks back on a career that’s really just getting started.

“I knew that [Mark] Padun was still up the road and if I was going to close down the gap, I had to go from long.”

With 10.1km to go, Vine began his effort. He surged away from a group that contained all the GC specialists and although the new leader of the Vuelta, Remco Evenepoel, set a solid pace in pursuit of the Australian from Alpecin-Deceuninck, Vine held his advantage.

Vine says he was “lucky” he lost time on GC in the opening days of the Vuelta, as this meant he was given a little more leeway from Evenepoel and his ilk. But even if the 26-year-old had been high on the rankings, it’s uncertain anyone would have been able to reel him in on a day when he was clearly inspired… and capable of putting time into the world’s best riders.

“I was lucky – well, not lucky – but I was down 13 minutes on GC [and] and no one would care if I went, and I was able to manage my effort and just pace the climb.”

He built his advantage and held it. Evenepoel would finish second in the stage, crossing the line in the clouds 15 seconds behind Vine and the Belgian took his first Grand Tour leader’s jersey.

Remco Evenepoel and Enric Mas, second and third in stage six, respectively.

Quenet asked Vine what he had on his mind in the last kilometre, when Evenepoel started to claw back a few seconds from the Australian’s advantage and other GC riders – including the defending Vuelta champion, Primoz Roglic, all worked to limit their losses. “There were a couple of things, really,” replied the stage winner.

“It was, ‘This is for you!’ – my wife, who has basically done everything for me for the last three or four years to get me to this point. And I guess it’s time for me to get a Corvette now.”

We’ll find out more about the car reference, but let’s assume the obvious: that he planned to buy himself a treat if he scored a win in his second Vuelta appearance.

What we now know for certain is that numbers don’t lie; good figures on an indoor trainer can translate to victory when racing on the road.

Vine becomes the 11th Australian to win a stage at the Vuelta, joining Don Allan (1975), Michael Wilson (1983), Simon Gerrans (2009), CJ Sutton (2011), Simon Clarke (2012 and 2018), Michael Matthews (2013 and 2014), Adam Hansen (2014), Caleb Ewan (2015), Rohan Dennis (2018) and Michael Storer (2021).

Evenepoel now leads the 2022 Vuelta, with an advantage of 21 seconds over the former race leader Rudy Molard while the trio who arrived at Pico Jano in third, fourth and fifth – Enric Mas, Juan Ayuso and Roglic, respectively – are all in the top five on GC.

Vine’s victory is one good news story for Australian cycling fans from this year’s Vuelta and, judging by the showing of Jai Hindley and Ben O’Connor, there is more yet to come from the final Grand Tour of 2022. These two GC riders were eighth and 16th in stage six, and it’s clear that they have the legs to match their key rivals early in the Spanish race.

One mountain has been climbed. It was a fog at the finish but it’s clear that Jay Vine is a deserving winner. It wasn’t lucky, it was by design.

He may have deliberately lost time in the opening stage to ensure he wasn’t heavily marked when it came time to climb. It was a clever tactic but, many may be wondering, would anyone have been able to close the gap even if he was a threat to GC? Judging by what we could see from the clouded vision, probably not.

Vine is a born climber and at Pico Jano he showed everyone what he is capable of.



– By Rob Arnold