Simon Yates finally took a first win of this year’s Tour Down Under but it wasn’t enough to unseat Jay Vine from the overall victory. The uphill sprint on Mount Lofty suited Yates perfectly and he attacked with 1.8km left to race. Aussie Ben O’Connor initially followed the Brit but Jay Vine was able to bridge across not long afterwards. Heading under the flamme rouge, Simon Yates attacked again, only for O’Connor and Vine to counter-attack him. Vine came out of the wheel of O’Connor and looked set for a stage win but Yates used the last of his energy to hit the line first. Ben O’Connor ended up 3rd, 2 seconds behind the lead pair. The gap on GC closed to 11 seconds thanks to bonus seconds. Pello Bilbao hung on to stay 3rd in GC, 27 seconds back.
“At that point of the race I was just trying to go as fast as possible. The only concerning bit was the sprint. I was not super confident there just with the huge effort I put in to try and establish a gap, but I managed to just pull it off. A lot of the other teams were interested in making it a hard race, or just getting in the moves so we just sat back quietly and really focused on the final.
UAE had a strong team here. It would have been difficult to shake them all earlier and also with Bilbao and me being on the same time it was also a bit of a tricky situation there. It was hard to put everything into it and then risk losing second place, so we had to work around that. We put a lot of emphasis on this race.
It’s a really big goal especially since Covid and it not being able to come back in full capacity. There was a lot of motivation in our team to really do a good ride and I hope I can take that back to Europe now and continue.”Simon Yates
Jay Vine has cemented his position as the form rider in this early part of the season. Already the winner of the Aussie national TT champs, now Vine has won the Tour Down Under in his first major race for his new team, UAE Emirates. His odds to win the Giro d’Italia have fallen sharply and is now one of the main outsider favourites.
“I’m a big fan of Alain Prost from Formula One and his philosophy was take the risk when you can and when you have the opportunity go all in and that’s how I basically rode the race, 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 the boys today because we had the 15 second buffer over the other two.
But yeah, I mean, it took him [Prost] to two world championships so it should have been able to help me get a Tour Down Under win. “I’m pretty happy with how my career is going. If I’d come second in this race that would have been a massive thing for my career as it was. But taking it step by step, I’ve got plenty more races still to go this year.Jay Vine
Away from the GC battle, Michael Matthews won the points jersey, Mikkel Honore of EF Education-EasyPost the KoM jersey and Magnus Sheffield of Ineos Grenadiers won the best young rider classification.