The storied rise of Jay Vine keeps getting better and better, and the wins keep coming quicker and quicker.
The 27-year-old Canberran claimed the first national championship of his career on the final day of racing at the 2023 Federation University Road National Championships, winning the Elite Men’s Individual Time Trial by 2.72 seconds ahead of four-time champion Luke Durbridge (Team Jayco AlUla).
Vine’s win was confirmed seconds after Durbridge crossed the finish, with wife Bre bursting into celebration and hugging her husband, who both looked shocked and quietly amazed at what he had just achieved.
The UAE Team Emirates rider ripped around the 37.5km course in a time of 46 minutes and 38 seconds at an average speed of 48.23km/h.
Vine’s ability and impressive power profile are no secret, but a less-than-optimal road race performance on Sunday raised question marks about whether he was near his best form so early in the year with loftier goals still months away.
The double Vuelta a España stage winner confirmed in his own words that he was “undercooked” for the road race.
But winning the national time trial championship has sent a strong message that 2023 may be a big year when he does eventually reach his peak, at what is expected to be the Giro d’Italia.
Durbridge’s teammate and 2023 Criterium National Champion Kelland O’Brien finished third 25.58 seconds behind Vine.
Back-to-back Road Race National Champion Lucas Plapp narrowly missed the podium by 0.85 seconds after his chain derailed on lap two of the course.
THEY SAID IT
(On whether he targeted the road race of time trial) “Well personally both, with big goals down the track this year I’ve really had to be professional and hold back a lot in the training,” Vine said.
“I’ve had to hold back a lot on the power work, so I’m stoked with that result.
“I came in really undercooked for the road race. The goal was to play it as smart as I could and you know, really race it as if I was one of the big stars of the day, probably knowing full well that probably coming into the last four laps I wasn’t going to have it.
“I mean the time trial is sort of my pet event from back in the day, but I just haven’t been able to go fast in a good position since turning professional so being able to get on a good bike with the team, and in the right position.
“And I can tell you what, there’s more improvements to be made, so it’s pretty exciting.”
(On how long on the new TT bike) “Literally 250 kilometres on the bike since getting it December 18th and just getting used to the position and then training up again,” Vine said.
“My goals are down in May, June – you can take what you will off those dates.”
(On long-term ambitions) “Of course, there’s always ambitions to do lots of things, I mean I’d just be stoked to just top-10 a GC (general classification) right now,” Vine said.
“I think I’ll take baby steps. Last year’s goal was to win a bike race.
“I did that twice so that’s the goal ticked. I was able to tick a big goal of mine which was to wear the green and gold already in my third year, so bigger goals are to turn more into a GC role but I just want to live this up right now.”
(On the feeling of being national champion) “I mean it feels pretty incredible. Like I felt good all day today, nervous like nobody’s business, tried giving my wife a few heart attacks last night changing things and this morning as well, but she kept me cool – it’s incredible,” Vine said.
“Felt like we went a bit overkill in our prep with the car and everything this morning, friends and family doing their absolute best for us – it’s good, it’s really freaking good.
“It (celebrating with wife Bre) was amazing, she DS’d (directeur sportif) for me today.
“It felt normal, like a club race you know out the back of Cootamundra or something.
“She was cracking the whip on the radio telling me to get my head down and stop seeing red.
“Certainly pays off to have your wife in your ear giving you the beans.”
“It’s bittersweet, 2.5 seconds or whatever it was, but I’ve been second before, and a close second before as well, so yeah, bit of fuel to the fire,” Durbridge said.
“To be honest (I) wasn’t really focussing on the time trial this year, but I got back home to Perth and the sun is shining and nationals is calling, so I get ahead of myself.
“And so I started to get time on my bike and got a bit excited, so I gave it everything out there and I’m pretty disappointed I didn’t get the win.
“But I mean, going into a new team for Jay, pulling on the national colours, it’s gone to a good champion – so couldn’t be happier with that.”
(On goals for 2023) “It’s probably the same every year, I want to win Paris–Roubaix,” Durbridge said.
“I’d love to be on the podium in one of the classics.
“Now I’ve got another big unit (Kelland O’Brien) on Jayco who’s a classics fan, so we’ll be up north (in Europe) rain, hail, or shine, giving the classics a go, and I’m just really looking forward to that period.
“It’s really nice to see young Aussie guys that share the same passion as I do.
“Matt Hayman’s leading the ship up there as well, so yeah, we’ve got a nice little group there don’t we? Looking forward to it.”
(His thoughts on if he has the right medal) Well, I’d have the right medal today, but on Friday night after the criterium, I said, ‘oh, gold medal for the time trial’, so now I guess we have the complete set,” O’Brien said.
(On having experienced teammates to learn from) “It’s a massive advantage for me to have other guys around me like Luke.
“I’ve been third here before in the time trial, and yeah, I guess this is a little bit, as Luke said, fuel on the fire for the coming years, but yeah, I look to learn a lot from Luke and the other guys, for sure.”