With Tao Geoghegan Hart suddenly crashing out of the Giro d’Italia, Remco Evenepoel already out after testing positive for COVID-19, Jay Vine is one of a number of riders happy for small mercies.
The Australian crashed and then lost ten minutes to the GC contenders on Tuesday’s rain-soaked stage to Viareggio, but he is content just to be healthy and still in the race after a simple but costly mistake.
“I froze,” Vine admitted on Wednesday, recalling the cold and rain of the 196km stage 10 to Viareggio.
“I just froze on the descent, that’s all. I could have hit a wall at 40km/h or at 10km/h like I did, but that crash was irrelevant. I was already like six minutes behind then because I couldn’t actually stop.”
Vine is now 18th overall, 12:52 down on Geraint Thomas. He started the Giro d’Italia as UAE Team Emirates’ second leader behind João Almeida but will ride in support of the consistent Portuguese rider and perhaps look for an opportunity in the mountains.
He reset his ambitions on Wednesday. “I’m not going to give a shit about the top 20 on GC,” he said bluntly and realistically.
“I’m just going to take a couple of recovery days and see what happens in the last couple of days of this week.”
UAE Team Emirates celebrated Pascal Ackermann’s sprint victory in Tortona but are focused on backing Almeida.
He is third overall, only 22 seconds behind Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and only 20 seconds down on Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma). He leads the best young rider competition and so races in the white jersey.
“I was lucky to avoid the crash. It was pretty bad. I’m really sorry that Tao is out,” Almeida said after Wednesday’s stage.
“Roglič and Thomas crashed too. I think Tao was one of the stronger riders. I was expecting a lot from him. It’s sad, the race is poorer without him. I just hope to make it to the finale.
“With COVID-19, anything can happen. It took me out last year. But let’s stay positive, in a good way, of course, and try to bring it home. I believe in myself, and I think I’ve been developing good.
“I’ve got some tough rivals, but I always believe I can maybe win it. If you don’t believe it, you don’t achieve it, right? My goal is the podium. If it’s the first step, great, if it’s the third, then great too.”