Vine Wins Tour Down Under as Yates Takes Final Stage
The final stage of Santos Tour Down Under 2023 was a short and intensive 112.5-kilometer mountainous ride from Unley to Mount Lofty, near Adelaide. The peloton would contest Mount Lofty no less than three times and the category 1 climb (1.5 kilometers, 6.8%) was expected to offer the stage for a grand finale and influence the final general classification of this year’s Tour Down Under.
Former professional cyclist and current race director Stuart O’Grady had just dropped the start flag for stage 5 when the hostilities began on the route that was designed with an uphill start that would cause pain in the legs of those riders who hadn’t warmed up prior to the start.
Stage 2 winner Rohan Dennis (Team Jumbo-Visma) attacked, hoping to fight for a stage win and make up for the time he lost in stage 3 due to a mechanical error that cost him the race lead. Dennis was joined by Italian Matteo Cattaneo (Team Soudal-QuickStep) and Ineos-Grenadiers’ Luke Plapp and the riders formed a breakaway trio, before being swooped up by the chasing peloton.
Michael Matthews won the first intermediate sprint on Greenhill Road, Uraidla and thereby earned valuable points for the points competition he was already leading before today’s stage 5.
The first King of the Mountain contest of the stage was won by Swiss rider Johan Jacobs (Team Movistar) who was first to reach the peak of Mount Lofty on the first crossing. He was followed by Matthew Denham (Team DSM) and Lucas Hamilton (Team Jayco-AlUla), while Dane Mikkel Honore (Team EF Education-EasyPost) remained overall leader in the King of the Mountain competition.
The second intermediate sprint was won by Jayco-AlUla’s Michael Hepburn and he secured the available points in defense of his team leader Matthews’ points competition lead.
The pace was continuously high during the stage and Kim Heiduk (Team Ineos-Grenadiers) won the finial intermediate King of the Mountain contest when he was first to cross Mount Lofty the second time.
The stage was set for an intense fight in the final lap of stage 5 and this year’s Tour Down Under. The Jayco-AlUla team fought hard to animate the race in support of team leader Simon Yates who was second in the general classification before the final stage.
No team or individual rider managed to gain a sustainable lead over the main favorites group, so a large group approached the finish line together, while preparing for a final sprint that would determine the outcome of the stage and possibly influence the general classification podium.
The stage was won by Yates, who finished the stage in 02:41:16 and took his first win of the 2023 season. Race leader Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates) finished second in the same time as Yates and thereby also secured the overall win. Australian Ben O’Connor finished third for his AG2R-Citroen outfit.
Vine won the 673-kilometer 2023 Santos Tour Down Under in 16:07:41. Yates finished the race 11 seconds behind Vine and Bahrain-Victorious’ Pello Bilbao took the third spot on the podium 27 seconds behind the race winner.
The points competition was won by Matthews. Honore took the honors in the King of the Mountain competition, Magnus Sheffield (Ineos-Grenadiers) won the Best Young Rider competition, and the Best Team competition was won by UAE Team Emirates ahead of Trek-Segafredo and Groupama-FDJ.
Stage winner Yates said he started the race with the goal of taking the overall win but was content with today’s stage win.
“We came here to the Santos Tour Down Under with a lot of ambition. I mean, we're the only Australian WorldTour Team. Obviously, I’m British but I back the Aussies. We put a lot into it and of course we didn't walk away with the overall victory but we're really happy with the stage there.”
“I think that's the best I could do. I mean, the only thing I could change was the efex Prologue in the rain. A lot of a lot of guys also got caught up in that as well. I did the best I could there. From there we just tried to take the race as it came. Today was our last chance so we took it,” Yates explained to Roadcycling.com.
“It feels pretty incredible to be standing here wearing this jersey,” race winner Vine told Roadcycling.com. “The way the team rode the race was first class, the guys were incredible and our sports director Marco in the car was also always clear and giving us good instructions. It was pretty hectic at the start of the stage, we really had to be on our toes but I had good guys around me, the team was incredible and they deserve this victory as much as I do.”
It was the ninth time in history that an Australian rider won the Tour Down Under.