• Jay Vine of Nero Continental after his National Road Series win atop Tomewin climb (Jamie Finch-Penninger)Source: Jamie Finch-Penninger
Jay Vine paid tribute to his wife and Nero Continental team after a hard-fought battle on Day 4 of National Road Series racing around the Tweed culminated in a summit finish where the Canberran dominated the field to win.
SBS Cycling Central

1 Dec 2020 - 5:40 PM  UPDATED 1 Dec 2020 - 5:44 PM

Years of hard work, recently beset by doubts surrounding the COVID shutdown of racing, have made Vine's victory atop the climb of Tomewin even more special. Vine converted from mountain-bike racing to the road full-time in 2019, quickly became a rising star within the sport, and set his sights on turning pro within the WorldTour. 

His wife, Bre, is the sole breadwinner at present with her full-time government job at the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. Sitting on the roadside, hiding from the humid heat of northern NSW after his winning effort, Vine underlined how much the victory, which carries no prizemoney, meant to him and his partner.  

"It means everything," said Vine. "Bre's been working for 18 months, nearly two years now to support my training and with the pandemic, trying to justify me not having a job while there's no racing is pretty difficult but she supported me through it. It really means a lot, and to do this, to put all this work into a result like this, this is for her." 

25-year-old Vine was the favourite heading into the race after a strong win on the opening day time trial along Pottsville Beach, but with team tactics expected to play a significant role on a very hilly and technical series of laps around Bilambil, it was up in the air what the final result would be.

Vine's teammates worked hard to bring back a breakaway of six strong riders that formed after early aggression, with Ben Van Dam (Team Bridgelane) the final rider free, jumping away on the final climb, the Tomewin climb summit finish. Vine produced a stunning attack from the peloton after his teammate Ben Carman splintered the main group. Only Ben Metcalfe (Team Bridgelane) was able to follow, but Vine couldn't quite shake him on the double-digit gradients of the middle section of the climb.

Vine explained to SBS Cycling Central what was in his mind as he tried to surge clear to win.

"A tiny bit of questioning," said Vine, "then with about 1500 metres to go I passed Ben Van Dam and he said 'Go Ben' to Benny Metcalfe (Van Dam's Bridgelane teammate). I checked over the shoulder and it was the first time he'd let a wheel length go. I decided to hit the gas again and the gap pulled away."

Vine and Nero Bianchi triumph for maiden win in Tour of Tropics
Jay Vine (Team Nero Bianchi) proved to be the strongest rider at the new National Road Series (NRS) event, the Tour of the Tropics, as torrential rain assailed the riders in a near-constant barrage over the five stages.

Vine came in solo, 34 seconds ahead of Metcalfe, not having much strength beyond what was necessary to get to a safe spot and sit on the verge of the road and thank Carman when he came to join him at the finish. He explained the job was done to perfection by his team, with the confidence that he would fulfil his end of the bargain on the climb.

"We checked out the course, the 17-kilometre loop on Saturday and knew this was a really tough day," said Vine. "If we could just get it to a minute at the base, I knew I could do my job. Dylan (McKenna) sacrificed his own chances to rip it at the base, then Ben also riding a ripper did a 1200-metre two-minute burner then exploded, but he did his job really well."

Vine is expected to be one of the finalists of the Zwift Academy when it is announced soon, which could provide a professional contract with Pro Conti squad Alpecin–Fenix, home to star rider Mathieu van der Poel. If not successful there, it's a more difficult path for Vine, with many squads having taken on a full quota of riders for 2021 already.

While this ride was hopefully just a point on a graph that describes the upward curve of Vine's cycling career, you only had to look at his face to see how significant it was for him.