Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates) achieved another milestone in his short career, winning the 2023 Australian National Elite Men’s Time Trial in Ballarat ahead of Luke Durbridge and Kell O’Brien (both Jayco-AlUla).
Vine’s win came down to seconds, he finished ahead of the last few riders and then had to wait as first Luke Plapp (INEOS Grenadiers) and then Luke Durbridge came home, with the West Australian just 2.7 seconds behind the Canberran’s time.
Jay’s wife Bre, who was also Jay’s sports director and soigneur during the event, showered him with hugs and praise as Jay slumped over his bike almost motionless, trying to take in the huge victory.
Vine was not favored to win going into the race as he did not score big in the time trial with Alpecin-Deceuninck in the time trial. The team’s move to the UAE and the resulting change in equipment and his position on the time trial paid off as he beat multiple national champions in Durbridge and Plapp, who had a chain fall off during the race and had to put it back on himself, eventually finishing fourth, 27 seconds down.
The last time trial Vine won was on a road bike at National Road Series (NRS) level during the Tweed Valley National Tour, which was a big step up to the top of the National Championship podium.
“The time trial was my favorite event at the time,” said Jay Vine, “but I haven’t been able to ride fast in a good position on the bike since I turned pro. The team put me in the right position, and I’ll tell you what, there’s more improvements to be made.”
Vine’s performance was all the more remarkable because of his preparation for the event, where he kept something in order to preserve his form for other big goals later in the season.
“With big goals on the track, I really had to be professional and hold back in practice,” Jay Vine said. “I came in really underprepared for the road race. The goal was to play as smart as I could and race like I was one of the big stars of the day, knowing that when it came down to the last four laps I wasn’t going to have him.”
“My goals fall in May/June, you can take what you want from those dates (editor’s note: Giro d’Italia), so I had to give up strength work, so I’m super stoked with that result.”
With this time trial ability combined with his proven climb to win stages at the Vuelta a Espana, there is the potential for Jay Vine to become a force in the general classification battles in the future.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of ambition to do something, but I’d be thrilled just to get into the top 10 on GC right now,” said Jay Vine. “Last year’s goal was to win a bike race, I did that twice, that’s one tick and I managed to tick another big one as I’ll be wearing the green and gold already in my third year. The big goal is to turn more towards the GC role, but now I just want to live up to this.”
Team Vine, or the #GetWreckedJay crew on social media, was out in full force during the national championship, and Bre was enlisted to play almost every supporting role for her husband. After the race, she spoke about her role as acting sports director behind Jay in the car during the race.
“The nerves were really high,” said Bre Vine, “I was actually telling Adam, who was driving, that it’s actually quite similar to training, where I’m going to say ‘up’, ‘down’, ‘power’, ‘come on’, and he’ll actually DS for me when I’m doing my efforts on the climbs and everything.
“It’s actually quite second nature for us to do this, but to see him ride so well, and to see him get his three minutes, I was just blown away. I actually thought, ‘maybe I’ve cracked the whip on him too much’, but he kept powering on and kept digging.”
The win was all the sweeter for coming after a road race disappointment where Jay Vine dropped out early and was a subdued figure on the road.
“He was really disappointed after the road race, he wanted to be good of course, but we knew about the time trial and getting that fast TT position, we knew he was going to be good,” said Bre Vine. “On the downhills I said ‘just have fun baby and show them what a downhill you are’ and wow, he definitely did. He gave me a few heart attacks but he was running so well.”
To go from that NRS win just over two years ago to a string of successes and breakthroughs since then has been an upward trajectory almost unimaginable at that stage.
“That one was really special to me because he dedicated that win to me and it was one of the first interviews he did and it was his first NRS win,” Bre Vine said. “He did so much time trial work, especially in Canberra before he turned pro.
“It goes back to his history in mountain biking, he likes to go hard and as fast as he can. I think he’s always been able to do this, it’s so special to see him do it, I couldn’t be more proud.”
Luke Durbridge, three seconds behind Vine, and Kell O’Brien, 26 seconds behind, completed the podium, with Luke Plapp unlucky to lose his chain at the top of the climb, finishing 26 seconds behind but a fraction of a second behind O’Brien .