Jay Vine Interview
You climbed to fame by winning two remarkable mountain stages in last year’s Vuelta a Espana. You then left your previous Alpecin-Fenix team to join UAE Team Emirates this winter. How does it feel to be standing on the top of the podium in your first stage race with your new team?
It feels pretty incredible to be standing here wearing this jersey. The way the team rode that race was first class. My teammates were incredible and our sports director Marco in the car was always clear and provided us with good instructions through the race. It was pretty hectic at the start of the final stage, we really had to be on our toes, but I had good guys around me, the team was incredible, and they deserve this victory as much as I do.
Did the Tour Down Under race week work out perfectly for you?
I wouldn't say perfectly but yes, it was pretty good. I'm a big fan of Alain Prost from Formula One and his philosophy as a pro was to take the risk when you can and when you have the opportunity go all in. That's how I basically rode the Tour Down Under. In other words not getting greedy and going for stage wins when I could take as much time as possible. That's why it was a lot easier on my teammates late in the race, because we had a fifteen second buffer over the other two. This philosophy helped Prost win four world championships - now it has taken me to a Tour Down Under victory.
How have you evolved as a professional cyclist in the past couple of years and where are you now?
Well, I guess it's good that I didn't get a start in this race before now, because now I get to say that I won the Tour Down Under on debut. I don't know if it says anything about selections for the Australian national team, but I'm super happy to be where I am right now.
You achieved a professional career by winning the Zwift Academy program in 2020. Since then, you've gone from strength to strength. How are you feeling about life?
It's incredible. I believe my wife promised me a Corvette last year after the Vuelta stage wins. So now I've probably got a Bentley coming - it looks like we've got some traveling to do around Europe.
Do you feel like you’ve well and truly arrived now in professional cycling?
I'm pretty happy with how my career is going. Even if I had finished second in my virgin Tour Down Under, that would have been a massive thing for my career as it was. But I am taking it step by step, and I've got plenty more races waiting for me this season. I think we're only on day seven or something or day nine of racing in Australia for January. So I’ve got one more race to take part in here in Australia – Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, and then the European season starts.
You have just begun your third season as a top professional cyclist. Was there any lesson that you learned from this race that can help you?
I wouldn't say there is anything that I learned, but I definitely have full faith in the team. This is a team sport at the end of the day. I'm standing here wearing the winner’s jersey and carrying the trophy, but without those six other teammates that rode around Australia with me for these past six days, I couldn't be standing here. Plus, the support staff around us. I think we've got seven, maybe eight staff members with us down here, which is more than we have riders. Without them, you know, the show doesn't go and I'm not here.
Especially the last couple of days, you had a huge target on your back being race leader. Was it stressful for you and did you believe you would be standing here as Tour Down Under Champion at the end of the final day?
Yeah, it would be fairly naive of me to say that I had I didn't have a target on my back, but I didn’t really focus on the target on my back. We're just going about doing the usual thing that the team does. They want to go to France (for the Tour de France), they’ve won Torino twice, the UAE Tour twice, so many races. Their confidence is inspiring for me, knowing that they've done all this before, so they can certainly get a mug like me to get around this course in my debut.
You rode this year’s Tour Down Under like a man on a mission - are you trying to make up for lost time?
I wouldn't say I'm making up past time. My wife keeps reminding me. I really want to get to the next thing, the next thing, the next thing, but as she keeps telling me, Jay, just enjoy the moment as if you were on your bike because you like riding it, and that's what helped me stress off and wind down a lot this week. I really enjoyed yesterday, really enjoyed today, as much as it was, okay, particular kilometers down, but it's just fun riding my bike and racing, that was real proper good fun.
The Santos Tour Down Under has returned to the WorldTour calendar following a two-year Covid-19-related hiatus. Have you found the spectators embrace the race and welcome it back or has the WorldTour calendar gone too global?
Yeah, I think everyone's really stoked it's back. I was really worried the race would fail to regain the necessary funding when Covid-19 hit. We've seen a bunch of races in the United States go out of business, but bike racing in Australia supposedly has access to a lot of money, so it's really, really good that we've still got a WorldTour stage race going on down under.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us at Roadcycling.com. We wish you all the best and a very successful 2023 season in your favorite races Jay.