Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates) was probably hoping for a calmer start to stage 4 of the Giro d’Italia.
The peloton hadn’t even left the neutral zone when the 27-year-old Australian was standing by the roadside, waiting for a team mechanic to adjust his seatpost and saddle. And then, on his chase back to the bunch, Vine narrowly avoided a nasty crash after colliding with his own team car.
Vine was nearing the back of the peloton when he pulled alongside the car for a chat with his sports director. He reached out to grab onto the driver’s-side window, just as the car moved to the left. Vine made contact with the side of the vehicle as his bike flicked around beneath him. Clinging desperately to the window sill, Vine managed to keep himself upright, just.
Vine was able to return to the bunch unharmed and went on to finish 16th on the day. Writing about the stage afterwards on Instagram, the Tour Down Under winner said: “Good day in the office despite a little adrenaline rush at the start of the race 🤦♂️ But no harm no foul.”
Tuesday’s incident wasn’t Vine’s first brush with a team car. On stage 14 of the 2021 Vuelta a España, then riding for Alpecin-Fenix, Vine had a similar but considerably worse experience.
On that occasion, Vine was descending beside his team car when he reached out to hand a bottle to the driver. As the car swept around a gentle left-hand bend, Vine got too close to the vehicle, made contact with his right flank, swiftly lost control of the bike, and tumbled heavily to the ground.
While it initially looked like he’d be out of the race, Vine didn’t just manage to remount – he fought his way back to the bunch and then up the stage-ending climb to take third on the day.
Vine’s brush with his team car on Tuesday isn’t the only such incident in the news this week. On Monday, AG2R Citröen rider Lawrence Naesen accused Groupama-FDJ sports director Frederic Guesdon of driving into him from behind at Tro-Bro Léon.
That incident prompted a frustrated response from Adam Hansen, the newly elected president of the riders’ union, the CPA.
“I really don’t know what upsets me more,” Hansen wrote. “A rider of mine gets hit by a car in a race. Then it’s brushed off as it’s part of racing, and it’s been like this forever. Or not a single person came up to apologise to the rider that was hit by a car.”
As for Vine, he’s currently sitting 10th on GC in his debut Giro, 1:36 off the overall lead of stage 4 runner-up, Andreas Leknessund (DSM). Vine is notionally riding in support of team leader João Almeida who’s up in fourth place overall – 1:00 behind Leknessund – but UAE Team Emirates has said Vine “may see his own chances open up depending on how the race develops.”
In the meantime, maybe just open up a bit more space between yourself and your team car, hey Jay?