Australian neo-professional Jay Vine (Alpecin-Fenix) impressed with his second place on the Tour of Turkey’s queen stage and just fell short of over-turning Jose Manuel Diaz’s (DELKO) one-second lead on the final stage of competition as he finished second overall.
Vine went into the race with little apparent form, his first event of the season was the Tour of Turkey, but he impressed everyone present or watching his exploits from afar.
Vine took second on the crucial Stage 5 of the Turkish 2.Pro race, the brutal slopes of the climb seeing a fascinating battle between the top climbers present. Only four seconds off the race lead after the stage, Vine went about trying to steal extra seconds in the bonus in the intermediate sprints, taking a crucial three seconds on Stage 7 to set himself up with a great chance at winning the race overall by the end of Stage 8.
DELKO took a more proactive approach to protecting their team leader’s top spot in the final stage, attacking with numerous riders and exploiting Alpecin-Fenix’s lack of numbers -they were down to just four riders- to steal the top spot at the intermediate sprint, with the sprinters filling out the other spots.
Coming into the finish of the stage that would eventuate in a bunch sprint, Vine crashed on a bend and while he didn’t have his GC position damaged as he had crashed within the final three kilometres, it meant that any chance of taking the overall win had evaporated.
Vine reflected upon his debut Alpecin-Fenix performance in a post on his Instagram account.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t admit, I’m disappointed not to have taken the overall win. I never stopped believing, and I still thought I could somehow get the GC being just 1 second off, so obviously, it’s a bit rough not being able to take the win. But I can walk away saying I gave it absolutely everything I had. Even though we only had 4 riders for half the tour we did our best juggling a few different battles (Jasper for the sprints, The green Jersey, and the GC) The team backed me and we fought as hard as we could.
“Today’s stage 8, was a real ‘racers stage’ with punchy climbs, crosswinds, splits, and everything in between. Tactically it was hard to stay on top with what was actually what was happening out on the road, every team had something slightly different that they are racing for, which meant there was a battle of attrition.
“Even after we came up short on the early sprint prime, the plan was to continue to ride, because there is always a chance until you cross the line for something to happen! The final few KMs were hectic with a super fast and tight finish, I came down inside the 3km of the line, in a super-fast pinch point, still trying to be in front of splits to hopefully gain a crucial second but that’s racing. I’m okay and still kept my GC position with the 3km rule.”
Vine was an unexpected elevation to the professional ranks, not so much because of his talent, but because of the lack of opportunities through a COVID restricted 2020 season. Vine won a coveted spot on Alpecin-Fenix through the Zwift Academy, and is looking to make every post a winner as he embarks upon his career in Europe.
He set a very impressive mark on one of the Girona regulars favourite climbs, the Rocacorba, taking the Strava KOM, and he looks to have already have good esteem within his new squad as he took on the leadership role in Turkey alongside a proven sprinter in Jasper Philipsen.
“The support I’ve had from everyone here has been incredible, and I’ve genuinely had so much fun racing my bike,” said Vine.
“Now it’s time to take a few days to celebrate, let the racing soak in, and get back to work because the seasons has only just begun.”
By Jamie Finch-Penninger
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