Home » Australian cycling star Jay Vine avoids spinal surgery after horror crash in Spain

Australian cycling star Jay Vine avoids spinal surgery after horror crash in Spain

Australian cycling star Jay Vine will not have to have surgery on the spine injuries he suffered when falling heavily in a horror crash at the Itzulia Basque Country race.

His UAE Team Emirates medical director Dr Adrian Rotunno reported on Saturday that last year’s Tour Down Under winner Vine would remain in hospital and would be in a neck brace for up to six weeks.

But after suffering what the team described as “a cervical and two thoracic spine vertebral body fractures” in Thursday’s crash in northern Spain, there had been initial fears that the 28-year-old would need to be operated on.

“After examining MRI and final clinical assessment, thankfully no surgery will be necessary for Jay. The fractures are stable enough not to warrant surgical correction,” Rotunno said in a team statement.

“Jay will remain in hospital over the following days to allow for ongoing observations and further recovery. He will be in a neck brace for up to six weeks but will be able to start with general body rehab from next week.”

Vine looked to have come off worst of the dozen who fell in the mass crash which caused other luminaries, including double Tour de France winner Jonas Vingegaard and double world champion Remco Evenepoel, to also suffer serious injuries.

Vingegaard suffered a collapsed lung, a pulmonary contusion, broken ribs and a broken collarbone, with his title defence in doubt, while Evenepoel needed surgery on a fractured collarbone and shoulder blade.

Australian cyclist Jay Vine celebrates with wife Bre after winning the 2023 Tour Down Under. Photograph: Brenton Edwards/AFP/Getty Images

After the Canberra rider slid at high speed on a descent into a concrete ditch at the side of a road, he lay motionless while being treated and TV pictures left his wife Bre, a former cyclist herself, fearing the worst.

Bre, who is pregnant, watched in horror as television images showed Jay being treated while motionless at the side of the bend.

“I will admit when I saw the live coverage of him just lying there not moving for such a long time, I genuinely wasn’t sure if I still had a husband and if the worst had happened,” she posted on Instagram.

“As soon as the team had comms it was communicated to me ASAP. And I’m so genuinely grateful for how quickly they got the news to me.”

She said she jumped in her car at their Andorra home and arrived at the hospital’s ICU six hours later.

“I will let UAE share his medical updates when we have determined the extent of the injuries. But for now he is ‘okay’, and we are still considering all our options. The team are making sure he and I are getting the best care possible,” she added.

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“There’s a lot to unpack from the incident, and we will have discussions with the relevant people later on, but for now my focus is on our family and helping Jay through this.

“I’ve followed every single kilometre Jay’s raced and trained, I’ve seen every crash, and every triumph.

“This crash is going to be one that sticks with us for a long time, but like Jay has done every single day before, he will fight and come back stronger than ever with the #getwreckedjay spirit that we love.

“It’s an odd phrase I’ll give you that, but goes back to all those years ago when we were racing mountain bikes. Long story short: it means give it everything you’ve got, sh*t will happen and things will go wrong, but keep fighting.

“And that is what this man continues to do on a daily basis and we will do again together.”

Vine’s rise has been one of cycling’s most inspiring, as the man who was discovered as an e-sports specialist, was snapped up by a pro team and has since become a Grand Tour stage winner and Tour Down Under champion.

But days after starting the Basque tour with a brilliant second place in the time trial, this latest in a catalogue of injuries he’s suffered will keep him out of the Giro d’Italia, where he would have been one of Tadej Pogacar’s key lieutenants in the mountains.

Double Tour de France champion Pogacar offered his best wishes to his teammate, whose Olympic hopes for 2024 are also surely over.