Evenepoel keeps Vuelta lead as Vine wins another stage

Tim de Waele/Getty Images
10 Comments

LAVIANA, Spain — Jay Vine is having fun in the Spanish Vuelta.

The Australian won his second Vuelta stage, two days after overcoming a flat tire to take his first win at a Grand Tour race.

Vine impressed on the grueling final climb to beat Marc Soler, Rein Taaramae and Thibaut Pinot by more than 40 seconds in a foggy Stage 8 in northern Spain.

“It’s incredible,” the Alpecin-Deceuninck rider said. “I’ve just got so much more confidence after that first one. I got that monkey off my back. I just enjoyed today. It was such a fun day.”

Remco Evenepoel, who was second to Vine in the sixth stage on Thursday, kept the leader’s red jersey by crossing the line in fifth place. He was 1 minute, 20 seconds behind Vine but came in along with his main challengers in the overall classification – Enric Mas and three-time defending champion Primoz Roglic.

Overall, Evenepoel was 28 seconds in front of Mas and 61 seconds ahead of Roglic. Rudy Molard started Saturday’s tough mountain stage 21 seconds off the lead in second place, but dropped nearly 10 minutes behind.

“I took time on a lot of guys except for the two most important ones, Primoz and Enric,” said Evenepoel, the Belgian rider from team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl. “But it was good to see Primoz being really strong today, it’s nice to see him like this. It’s good for the race. I just did my best. My team was superb today, we controlled from the start, and it wasn’t easy.”

Roglic, going for an unprecedented fourth straight Vuelta title, had his preparations affected by a fall at the Tour de France.

Riders face another difficult mountain stage in Asturias on Sunday.

“I’m really happy with how I felt today,” Evenepoel said. “I hope I can recover really well because tomorrow I will need super fresh legs again.”

Australia’s Jay Vine wins Tour Down Under

4 Comments

ADELAIDE, Australia — Australia’s Jay Vine defended his overnight lead to win the Tour Down Under, the first event of the 2023 World Tour.

Simon Yates of Britain won the final stage and moved up from third to second place on overall standings. Vine came in second on the stage to secure the biggest win of his career in a stage race.

The UAE Team Emirates rider took the overall tour lead when he finished second in Stage 2 and third in Stage 3. He came into the final stage with a 15-second lead on general classification.

The 70-mile stage involved four laps of a 15.5 mile-circuit through the Adelaide Hills before finishing just beyond the summit of Mount Lofty.

Yates led the crucial attack on the ascent less than 1.2 miles from the finish, but Vine jumped onto his wheel and Australian Ben O’Connor also joined in.

O’Connor led out close to the finish line, Vine briefly passed him but Yates came over the top to claim the stage win. Vine retained his overall advantage and claimed the title in his debut appearance in the Tour Down Under.

The 27-year-old made his name in e-Sports before being signed by the UAE team after winning the academy program on the Zwift online platform. He won two stages of the Vuelta a Espana last year and the Australian Time Trial title.

“It’s pretty incredible to be standing here and wearing this jersey,” Vine said. “The way we drove that was first class. My guys were incredible.”

The final stage featured a breakaway of 13 riders but Vine’s UAE teammates led the chase by the peloton and put their rider in a position to contest the win.

Yates again rode an aggressive race but had to be happy with the stage win.

“We came Down Under with a lot of ambition. We put a lot into it and we didn’t come away with the overall but we can walk away pretty happy,” Yates said. “Obviously Jay Vine is a massive talent and the crowd will be happy with a local winner.”

France’s Coquard wins Tour Down Under Stage 4; Vine leads

5 Comments

ADELAIDE, Australia — French cyclist Bryan Coquard won Stage 4 of the Tour Down Under for his first-ever World Tour win, while Australia’s Jay Vine retained the overall tour lead by 15 seconds with one stage remaining.

Coquard is a lightweight sprinter who has had 49 wins in a decade-long career but had never won on the World Tour until he cleared out near the finish to claim the 82-mile stage by a margin of about just over 100 feet.

Vine was among the leading group that shared Coquard’s winning time and who retained his lead on general classification over Britain’s Simon Yates and Germany’s Phil Bauhaus. The race concludes with Stage 5, which ends atop 2,329-foot Mount Lofty.

“It’s a long time that I’ve waited for this win, 10 years,” said Coquard, who rides for the French Cofidis team. “I never really expected and I’m very happy and relieved with this win.”

While the stage was flat and suited sprinters, it had its challenges. Cross-winds and occasional gradients made the stage difficult and confounded some riders.

After an early breakaway by Jonas Rutsch and former tour winner Daryl Impey of South Africa, the peloton broke into two groups with Vine and other tour leaders among the leading group.

The leading group stayed together around the last, sharp bend towards the finish and Coquard bided his time until his late sprint left other riders flat-footed.

“It was pretty stressful,” Vine said. “There was one point there, I thought we were going to have an easy day and I was happy, smiling, waving to families on the side of the road.

“Then, 45 kilometers in it was on and it was on until the end so it was a very hard day. There was a lot more calorie expenditure than I was planning.”