Vine wins Tour Down Under, Yates takes final stage

Jay Vine (Team UAE Emirates) has won the 2023 Tour Down Under despite losing the final stage of the Tour Down Under in a two-up sprint against Simon Yates (Team Jayco AlUla) in Mount Lofty. 

The 27-year-old becomes the ninth Australian to win the race and first since Richie Porte in 2019. Jay Vine is also the first rider since Daryl Impey in 2018 to win the race overall without claiming a stage win. 

“It’s pretty incredible to be standing here wearing this jersey,” Vine said after the stage, flanked by his wife Bre. 

On the undulating course around the Adelaide Hills, the GC battle came to life in the final two kilometres as Yates launched the stage winning move with Vine and Ben O’Connor (Ag2R-Citroën) the only riders capable of following the Briton. As the trio started to look at each other with the finish line in sight, it was Vine who was first to launch. On the fast dip down to the finish line, Yates surged past for the victory with Vine yards in arrears and O’Connor at two seconds. 

Yates’ win was the first for Jayco AlUla at its home race since 2019. 

“We came here with a lot of ambition. We didn't walk away with the overall but we can be really happy with the stage,” Yates said. “The only thing I could change was the prologue in the rain." 

The time bonus wasn’t enough for Yates to take the ochre jersey off Vine as he finished 11 seconds off the Australian. Despite missing the winning move, Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Victorious) held on to his podium position, finishing third at 27 seconds. 

The win is Vine’s first career stage race of his career and second victory in his so far short tenure with Team UAE Emirates following his debut Australian time trial victory in Ballarat. 

The points classification was won by Michael Matthews Team Jayco AlUla) while the mountains classification went to Mikkel Honore (EF Education-EasyPost). The best young rider jersey went to 20-year-old Magnus Sheffield (Ineos Grenadiers), who also finished fourth overall. UAE Team Emirates won the team classification.

How it unfolded

Starting in Unley, it was a long neutral zone roll out through the suburbs of Adelaide for the 129-rider peloton. Devil’s Elbow on Mt Barker Road marked the start of the stage with first of the short-lived attacks from KOM leader Mikkel Honore (EF Education-EasyPost). 

Despite the aggressive start to the stage, with numerous teams looking to make the breakaway, the peloton was all together as they passed under the finish line gantry for the first of five crossings. 

Looking to extend his points jersey lead, Michael Matthews (Jayco-Alula) initiated a five-man breakaway to take the maximum points at the sprint point in front of the Uraidla Hotel. The quintet’s lead was short lived with the riders quickly back in the bunch as the peloton continued its laps around the Adelaide HIlls. A 13-rider group jumped off the front of the peloton, slowly building its lead over the strung out peloton. 

The composition of the break was Michael Hepburn (Jayco-AlUlla), Paul Lapeira (AG2R-Citroën), Matthew Dinham and Chris Hamilton (Team DSM), Francois Bidard and Victor Lafay (Cofidis), Marco Haller (Bora-Hansgrohe), Mathis Le Berre (Arkea-Samsic), Timo Roosen (Jumbo-Visma), Ben Swift (Ineos-Grenadiers), Marc Brustenga (Trek-Segafredo), Johan Jacobs (Movistar)and dual Commonwealth Games cross-country gold medallist Sam Gaze (Alpecin-Fenix). 

On the second crossing of the finish line and first offering of KOM points, it was Jacobs from the breakaway who took the maximum points. At the head of the peloton, Soudal-Quickstep and Bahrain-Victorious took on the pace making duties with the breakaway hovering between 25 and 51 seconds on the undulating course. 

With the breakaway holding, it was at the back of the peloton where the damage was being done with a large number of riders almost ten minutes in arrears half-way into the stage.At the second and final sprint point on the penultimate lap of the stage, it was Hepburn taking the maximum points with little interest from his breakaway companions. Behind the breakaway, AG2R joined in the pace making to reduce the lead under 20 seconds. 

With 30km to race, the breakaway was back in the sights of the peloton and the catch by the Luke Plapp lead peloton was made on the penultimate ascent of Mount Lofty. The bunch then content to roll over the line at the KOM with Plapp pocketing the points. The prize on offer next time the bunch came through would be stage honours. The race was only briefly back together as the counter attacks came thick and fast. 

A group of ten riders quickly jumped twenty seconds clear of the peloton. The group of Mattia Cattaneo (Soudal-QuickStep), Chris Harper (Jayco AlUla), Nikias Arndt (Bahrain-Victorious), Dorian Godon (AG2R-Citroën), Oscar Riesebeek (Alpecin-Fenix), Kim Heiduk (Ineos-Grenadiers), Ewen Costiou (Arkea-Samsic), Jonas Rutsch (EF Education First-EasyPost), and Dinham for the second time today, posed no threat to Vine’s lead. Cattaneo, the best placed of the challengers at 1:06 minutes, was the first to try solo away for victory with Costiou the next rider to roll the dice. 

With a little under 10km left in the stage and the 2023 edition of the Tour Down Under, the race was all back together as the long line of the peloton snaked through Algate. Vine was comfortable sitting on the wheel of his teammate George Bennett with Jayco-AlUla driving the pace via Luke Durbridge with the team looking to set up Yates. 

In the final run into Mount Lofty, the colours at the head of the peloton continued to change from black to white to fluoro to yellow with the only constant the ochre of Vine’s leaders jersey. After a monster pull by Rohan Dennis, Bryan Coquard made a brief cameo before Yates made his move with 1.8km to race. As the trio quickly rode away from the select peloton, Vine and O’Connor letting Yates set the pace, a touch of wheels by the pursuers brought down the likes of Milan Vader (Jumbo-Visma). 

The damage had already been done by Yates as the trio stormed their way to the line. The only question left to answer in the race was whether Vine could add a stage win to his palmares. Yates' celebration providing a clear answer to that question.

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