Despite a collision with his own team car, Jay Vine put in a performance to make the cycling world sit up and take notice on stage 14 of the Vuelta a España, riding to third place on the Pico Villuercas summit finish.
"Unfortunately, I had a race incident with the team car today. Luckily, it's more the pride that's hurt than the body, few stitches in my elbow but looking good to start stage 15," Vine said after the stage.
"Obviously disappointed and I'm going to be saying 'what if?' I honestly felt really good today, I had the legs, and that's what makes it so disappointing."
The Australian, who gained his place on Alpecin-Fenix's squad through winning the Zwift Academy before signing an extension last week, looked to be in bad shape after the crash, lying on the road in pain and shock after falling as he was trying to take a bottle.
"At first, I couldn't put any weight on my leg, I managed to sit upright and have the race doctor take a look at me. As soon as I could put weight on my leg, I got straight on the bike to keep going," Vine explained. "Spent a bit of time at the medical car getting sorted, then I managed to slowly catch Démare, then the chasing group with Pidcock. From there on it was a small jump to the front of the race. I tried my best trying to motivate the other riders."
Vine says his first Grand Tour podium is "smeared with embarrassment" and the lingering emotion will be whether he could have gone on to win the stage, having finished 44 seconds behind victor Romain Bardet, had he not suffered the crash.
"It's a bit odd, without the crash I'd be happy, I'd be writing a different post right now and having different interviews, but it feels like my first Grand Tour Podium is slightly smeared with the embarrassment of the crash. My only thought after the crash was - and I know I'm going to sound like a broken record here - but it was 'this is my opportunity'," Vine admitted.
"I had a race official come over and want to do an interview after the stage, and ask 'why did you come back after the crash?' I think they were after some inspirational quote from me, but I was a bit blunt and responded with 'why not?'"
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