Vine becomes the first Australian male winner of the Zwift Academy, combining his real-world form with Nero Continental with his indoor acumen, built through hundreds of Zwift sessions with wife Bre and races with Australian e-cycling team AERO.
Jay Vine has been looking to make the step up to the professional ranks and has dedicated himself full-time to the pursuit of a contract within the upper ranks of cycling. That single-minded determination paid off as he secured a deal with ProTeam Alpecin-Fenix, the home of star rider Mathieu van der Poel.
Vine had a stellar lead-up, winning two stages of the National Road Series racing in the Tweed before resetting his body and mental focus towards the Zwift Academy Finals.
On the final live stream, Vine was one of the strongest in the points race, though he couldn’t quite match Lionel Vujasin of Belgium, who used his exceptional sprinting power to take the points win 17 to 13 over Vine.
In the time-trial, the dynamic was reversed, with Vine leading by 25 seconds over the Belgian heading into the final 200 metres of the course, before suffering an equipment malfunction, with his avatar coming to a complete stop on the virtual road and real-life Vine spinning his legs trying to work out what went wrong. He was able to restart his trainer, but lost his lead and eventually finished half a minute behind Vujasin.
“I emptied myself pretty well,” said Vine immediately after the time trial, before the confirmation of him as the winner. “I thought that I was going to set a pretty good time there. You get this in road racing as well, at least in a road race if I’d flatted there I would have kept riding.
“A bit different with a glitch like that. I wish I had the thought to pull the plug out sooner, I might have been able to cross a bit closer.”
Nonetheless, it was Vine that secured the victory, and selection with the Alpecin-Fenix squad for 2021, the 25-year-old initially looking relieved that his efforts have been rewarded with the prize that he had chased for so long.
“I’m pretty ecstatic to be honest,” said Vine. “I’m lost for words, I didn’t think that it was going to happen this year. This is just incredible. I can’t wait to get over there, when do I start?!?”
While Vine was the favourite for many, particularly those that had seen his talents up close in Australia, there was no premature celebration from Vine as he methodically went about the process of being as fit as possible for the event and his best chance for a professional contract.
“A perfect example, I’m sure Roglic thought he was going to win the Tour de France,’ said Vine. “Anything can happen in the sport. I had to focus on getting as good as I could get. Making sure that there were no mistakes. I did have a dropout… I don’t know what to say.”
With a long sought-for goal now in his possession, the Vines, Bre and Jay, will have a joint celebration on their hands. Bre had been the sole breadwinner within the household, working for the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, supporting Jay in his goal to turn pro at the older-than-normal age of 25.
“I think Bre’s got a bottle of champagne,” said Jay Vine. “I don’t like champagne, but I’ll have a toast and I’ll have some friends around tonight for a barbeque. This is pretty special.”