Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck) became the latest rider to withdraw from La Vuelta after crashing on Stage 18.
The Zwift convert was caught up in a big incident with 171km remaining of the run from Trujillo to Alto de Piornal. The green jersey of Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) and podium hopeful Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos Grenadiers) were also involved.
Vine, the runaway leader in the mountains classification, had enjoyed a brilliant Grand Tour debut in Spain with two stage victories.
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His exit blows the race for the polka dot jersey wide open, with Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) – who began the day on 30 points, 29 behind Vine – assuming the virtual lead.
Thymen Arensman (DSM) is promoted into second on 22 points, with Vine’s team-mate Robert Stannard third on 21. Just 20 points now separate the top 11, although that is set to change on Thursday’s lumpy test.
The 2022 Vuelta has seen a spate of withdrawals due to crashes, Covid and other illness, with red jersey hopeful Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) abandoning ahead of Wednesday’s stage after a bizarre accident.

'He could be up there with the likes of Evenepoel or Roglic' - Lloyd

Vine’s success at the Vuelta was made even more remarkable given he only earned a professional contract last year after winning the Zwift Academy programme in 2020.
Such has been his sudden rise to stardom, Dan Lloyd said after his brilliant solo victory on Stage 8 that he could compete for GC honours at future Grand Tours.

What can we expect from Zwift-turned-road star Vine?

“We’ve got to remember he’s still learning this game. He literally just arrived in Europe last April and got second overall at the first race he did at the Tour of Turkey," he said.
“He’s entirely new to this pro peloton and everything that goes with it. He’s learnt incredibly quickly and he’s already starting to get towards that complete package.
“When you come from the Zwift Academy, the first questions everyone asks: are you able to descend, are you able to position yourself in the bunch? The more I look at him and the way he was descending today, he’s as comfortable as far more experienced riders.
“The more you look at it, the more you think if he prepares in the same way but with a slightly different mindset – ‘I won’t lose time, let’s see how far I can get in the general classification' [he can challenge].
“I think if he puts time and effort into his time trials as well he could be up there almost with the likes of Evenepoel or Roglic.”
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