Interview Jay Vine: “the numbers where there”
The Australian pro rider of Alpecin-Deceuninck was the shooting star of the 2022 Vuelta a Espana alongside overall winner Remco Evenepoel. Vine won two tough mountain stages and wore the best climber’s jersey until he had to give up the race, due to a crash. In an interview with Alpecin Cycling, the reigning Zwift World Champion talks about his recent successes, the World Championships and road cycling in Australia, and his goals for the near future.
Q: Is there a difference in racing in Down Under compared to Europe?
A: Absolutely. I have so far competed in only one UCI event Down Under, outside the national championships in Australia: the Herald Sun Tour, which is a 2.1 race and equivalent to Etoile de Bessèges, with 7 World Tour teams participating. Only 4 World Tour teams were at the start of the Herald Sun Tour. Yes – cycling (Down Under) is massively different. Even in the amateur field, the races are very different. Depending on the category, there are on average 50 people on site. Quite often if it’s not at a national level only 20 – 25, with everyone riding their own style of racing. I learned pretty early to be the strongest in the race. And that way you also learn how to deal with everyone riding against you because you are the threat.
Q: Did the 2010 World Championships in Geelong have an impact on you or was it something like an initial kick for your sporting career?
A: No, I didn’t even watched Cadel Evans winning the Tour de France. The first road race I’ve ever watched on television was 2014 Nibali winning the Tour de France followed quickly by Giro Lombardia. Those are the two events they got me into road cycling.
Q: Who is your favorite for the mens race in Wollongong and why?
A: I have Pogacar as my favorite for the mens race. I watched Pogacar winning the sprint in Canada. I think he is a good pick to bet on. In my eyes the French team is the strongest, they showed it last year when they all were working for Alaphilippe. But I don’t know if he will be in the shape he has been in the last two years.
Q: Do you also think that the course suits the puncheurs more than the climbers?
A: Absolutely it is a puncheurs course. The role of Australia is – no doubt – keep everything together and bring Matthews in the sprint from a small group. But I fell like, if Pogacar goes, Matthews won’t follow. We will see what happens there.
Q: Did you personally expect the successes at the Vuelta or did it come as a surprise?
A: I knew the numbers where there – absolutely. I had a really good block of training, including an altitude camp with the team and all the signs were really positive. I dropped extra weight from my 2021 Grand Tour. It was just putting it all together to get a result in an actual race. And fixing up some tactical mistakes which I have made in Norway, where I came second after Remco, I was confident, but it is still incredible to finally win a race. Well – I became second 4 or 5 times this year already.
Q: What was the reaction of the other riders in the peloton to your victories?
A: It felt a little bit odd. I received a lot of congratulations. I always feel weird – a bit like when someone says happy birthday to me. You always be like “Oh thank you” and you wanna say something back to him. So I always tried to say something back like “Oh you did also well”.
Q: Were you taken more seriously after the first stage win in the peloton? What is your perception?
A: I didn’t know that people didn’t take me seriously. After Norway, I think Remco did. So I don’t think I needed the stage victory to be taken seriously. I can’t really speak for anyone else.
Q: What will be your goal for the future? Do you see yourself as a classification rider in Grand Tours or will it still be about individual stages?
A: I definitely want to keep winning stages. Obviously, I haven’t done a GC at a World Tour race yet. So I’d like to start with one-week-races and then progress to Grand Tours. I think this is a wise stepping stone. And for that I need to start riding general classification on World Tour level.
Q: In which areas do you still see potential and how can you improve there?
A: Of course time trial is a massive area to improve but also it is a massive investment to improve aerodynamics and there are also gains to be made in that aspect. And also dealing in nutrition for stabilizing weight gain and weight loss. Maximizing absorption techniques is also a big thing.
Q: Do you have specific sportive goals for the future?
A: Yeah absolutely. I’d like to become a national champion in Australia. And Tour Down Under is a massive goal for my career. I’d like to win that race in the overall. And of course more success in Grand Tours is another big goal for me. But I am just looking at it “one race at a time at the moment”.
Q: Which races will you still be competing in in autumn 2022 and what are your goals there?
A: I hopefully will do the Giro dell’Emilia and Lombardia at a minimum. My injury is much better, the stitches are all out. I am working on the movement. I have pretty much 95% of my movement back. I am very lucky I didn’t cut anything, tendons or anything like that, so that’s good.
Q: Do you already have something like a favorite race? Either in which you have already participated or which you would like to ride one day?
A: My favorite classic is Lombardia – which I haven’t done yet. But I think I also really like to ride San Sebastian. Those climbes in the basque country and riding through that area definitely seem to be some of my favorite races.