It was a soaring start for Jay Vine‘s 2023 season as he powered to the green-and-gold stripes of the Australian national time trial champion’s jersey and backed it up with a maiden WorldTour stage race victory at the Santos Tour Down Under.
He was flying. Vine continued on the same fast-track trajectory that saw him jump from continental teams in Australia to the Zwift Academy title in 2020, and then to complete new heights in his second season at Alpecin-Fenix with a brace of Grand Tour victories at the 2022 Vuelta a Esapaña.
Despite securing an extension to his contract at UAE Team Emirates until 2027, the rest of the season was far from plain sailing, or “eventful”, as Vine summed it up to Cyclingnews. A knee injury and Grand Tour crashes took the shine off what was a fantastic start to his time at one of the sport’s biggest teams.
The latecomer to the professional ranks isn’t dwelling on the past, now with 2024 firmly on his mind as he gets rare time away from the stringent WorldTour routine for a holiday in the UK, taking in Stonehenge, Bath and the joys of a full English download.
“I would sum 2023 up as eventful. Lots of lots of stops and starts, but hopefully I can have a good rhythm for 2024 and if I can keep a good January going through the rest of the year it’ll be nice,” said Vine to Cyclingnews at Rouleur Live.
Vine said the Tour Down Under being in January meant “it didn’t really feel like I’d done it this season. Maybe if it had happened in June, or even, you know, May, it would’ve felt like I’d done at least half the season, not just the first month.
“It shows how quickly one injury can change the year. But I mean, I’m happy with how the season went,” Vine said. “At the end of the day, I secured two major goals of my own – wearing green and gold and winning [Tour] Down Under, which is incredible.”
He’ll be back in Australia in January to defend his title and the ochre jersey, which was the massive highlight of a tough year and put him into an exclusive club of Grand Tour stage race winners in 2023, of which there were only 11.
It was the Grand Tours where Vine was most disappointed, coming into the Giro undercooked off the back of his injury but still looking strong in the first week. However, a crash on the wet and miserable stage 10 ended his GC challenge with the Australian being realistic in his interviews about his lack of desire to work his way back into the top 10 as it wouldn’t move the needle for…