Jay Vine skips Tour Down Under defence for European focus

Jay Vine, the UAE Team Emirates cyclist, has announced a shift in his racing strategy for 2024, opting out of defending his Tour Down Under title to concentrate on later season goals in Europe. This decision means Vine will also not participate in the Australian National Time Trial, a title he secured in 2023.

Explaining his decision during the team’s training camp in Spain, Vine mentioned his commitment to both the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España in the upcoming season. This packed schedule, coupled with his late finish last season, influenced his choice to bypass Australia’s only WorldTour stage race (and presumably the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race too).

Vine, who rose to prominence after winning the Tour Down Under in 2023, following the footsteps of fellow Australian Richie Porte, acknowledged the challenging nature of the 2024 course. The route includes a double summit finish at Willunga Hill and a different ascent up Mount Lofty, which are less demanding than the previous year.

“It’s Willunga and Lofty – Lofty’s a lot easier this year. I would have to be on really good form before January to possibly do anything there,” Vine commented. He also noted the impracticality of preparing for such a demanding race so early in the season, especially after racing until mid-October in 2023.

Vine humorously compared himself to teammate Tadej Pogačar, admitting he doesn’t possess the same ability to bounce back quickly after late-season races. He emphasised the need for a more extended break before starting his preparations in November.

The decision to focus on European races reflects a strategic re-evaluation of Vine’s goals for 2024. His absence from the Tour Down Under removes a significant contender from the January race, which is set to feature prominent cyclists like Simon Yates, Luke Plapp, Julian Alaphilippe, and Geraint Thomas. This change of plans from Vine’s earlier enthusiasm for the 2024 Tour Down Under highlights his evolving priorities and the challenges of balancing a demanding international cycling calendar.

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