ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Australia’s Jay Vine has defended his overnight lead to win the Tour Down Under cycling race, the first event of the 2023 World Tour.
Simon Yates of Britain won the final stage Sunday and moved up from third to second place on overall standings. Vine came in second on the stage to secure the biggest win of his career in a stage race.
The UAE Team Emirates rider took the overall tour lead when he finished second on the second stage and third on the third of five stages. He came into the final stage with a 15 second lead on general classification.
The 112.5 kilometer (70 mile) stage involved four laps of a 25 kilometer (15.5 mile) circuit through the Adelaide Hills before finishing just beyond the summit of Mount Lofty.
Yates led the crucial attack on the ascent less than 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the finish but Vine jumped onto his wheel and Australian Ben O’Connor also joined in.
O’Connor led out close to the finish line, Vine briefly passed him but Yates came over the top to claim the stage win. Vine retained his overall advantage and claimed the title in his debut appearance in the Tour Down Under.
The 27-year-old made his name in e-Sports before being signed by the UAE team after winning the academy program on the Zwift online platform. He won two stages of the Vuelta a Espana last year and the Australian Time Trial title.
“It’s pretty incredible to be standing here and wearing this jersey,” Vine said. “The way we drove that was first class. My guys were incredible.”
The final stage featured a breakaway of 13 riders but Vine’s UAE teammates led the chase by the peloton and put their rider in a position to contest the win.
Yates again rode an aggressive race but had to be happy with the stage win.
“We came Down Under with a lot of ambition. We put a lot into it and we didn’t come away with the overall but we can walk away pretty happy,” Yates said. “Obviously Jay Vine is a massive talent and the crowd will be happy with a local winner.”
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