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Winner of two stages in three days at the Vuelta a España, Jay Vine has made clear he’s got the appetite for more at the race.
The Australian rider had a stormer of a day on Saturday, going in the early break, winning each of the six categorized climbs and then dropping his breakaway companions to nab another stage victory.
He also ended the day with a dominant lead in the king of the mountains jersey, and has seen his general classification position shoot up from 77th on Wednesday evening, 13:01 back, to 24th. He is now 6:33 off the race lead and being spoken of some as a possible GC contender.
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It’s been a sublime few days for the 26 year old, whose biggest victory before hand was the UCI’s e-racing worlds championships.
Vine was in a good mood on Saturday evening and joked that the thick mist which obscured the finish line on Thursday mean he had to win again.
“It is pretty incredible,” he said. “I mean the first one … I was disappointed I didn’t get a photo, so I had to come back and get that as well. Gianni [teammate Gianni Vermeersch] wanted the bottle of champagne, and that was sort of lost in the bin, so I had to go get that as well.”
Vine’s answer was tongue in cheek, but he was very serious about his appreciation to Alpecin-Deceuninck.
“The team fully backed me, even before the Tour in my altitude camp. They had full faith in me. It is pretty incredible when you are on a team with Tim Merlier, to have the team meeting centered around getting you in the breakaway and trying to secure that as an option. It just fills you with confidence, and I am just really happy to be able to deliver.”
Having expended a lot of energy on Thursday and wanting to perform strongly throughout Saturday’s stage, Vine said that he had to do things carefully once he got into the day’s key move.
He explained that it was all about metering out his effort and also making sure his tank was full.
“I think the challenge for me was to not lose concentration or doubt myself or mess something up, small … like missing a bottle, something like that, nutrition-wise,” he said. “And then also trying to balance getting points in the KOM as well as saving enough energy for the finish.
“I think after the first two climbs I knew where I sort of stood with the other guys in the break, they didn’t really care about the KOM points, so I was able to just mop those up as energy-efficiently as possible.”
Defining goals for the days ahead
Two more weeks remain in the race and while he’s had a very successful Vuelta thus far, he believes there is a lot more he can chase en route to Madrid.
Don’t think he’s going to sit back on his laurels; he’s in form, is on a confidence high, and he wants to make the most of it.
“I think the mountains jersey is definitely something that we would like to target from now on,” he said. “Obviously more stages [wins] is of course definitely something I would like to do. But I think I am getting really close on GC. The team and I, we are taking it day by day. So we are not looking at Madrid right now, we are looking at stage 9.
“Tomorrow is a new day, it is a really hard day. I don’t think I am going to get in the break tomorrow [he smiles], a lot of energy was used today. I think we will play it by ear, but at where I sit currently on GC, I don’t think a breakaway anytime soon without losing more time is an option.”
He’ll play things by ear, work out strategy with his team and hope that the power in his legs continues to fizzle.
Vine is on a roll and, best of all, is having a ball.
“I really had fun racing my bike today,” he said at Saturday’s press conference. “The descents were really fun. The flat sections with FDJ and Pedersen pulling like trucks … it was fast and a really awesome day.”