'Stoked' Aussie Vine riding again after spinal injuries

Top Australian cyclist Jay Vine says he's "stoked" to be back on his bike training less than two months since a horror crash at the Tour of the Basque Country left him fearing he might never be able to ride competitively again.

The 28-year-old UAE Team Emirates rider, a key teammate of the world's top cyclist Tadej Pogacar, reports that he's taken "a massive step in the right direction" after being given clearance to resume gentle training on the roads at his Andorra base.

It was seven-and-a-half weeks ago that Vine slid off the roadside on a descent and, along with a catalogue of other top riders including Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard, suffered severe injuries.

The Queenslander spent nine days in hospital in April with his team reporting he had suffered "a cervical and two thoracic spine vertebral body fractures", but though there had been initial fears over his future, it was soon assessed that he would not require surgery.

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"I'm stoked to say the doctors gave me the approval to remove the neck brace a few days ago, and they even gave the a-okay to ride my bike outside! (granted yes, I'm only allowed to ride uphill, but it's better than nothing!)," Vine reported on Instagram.

"It's been a long 8 weeks full of various scans, physio therapy, rehabilitation sessions, indoor trainer rides and (everything else in between) but my recovery has been coming along nicely."

Vine, who had originally been expected to be a lieutenant in the mountains for Pogacar in his bid to add a third Tour de France title to his newly-acquired Giro d'Italia crown, says he doesn't know when he'll be back racing competitively.

"I'm still not 100% and I know it will take a while to get used to all the new sensations, but overall it's a massive step in the right direction, and I'm starting to feel more like myself again," he said. 

"No we don't know when or what my races will be, first priority is getting some kind of base training done and make sure there's no flare ups, and we'll assess and go from there.

"Not to fear we are taking our time and making sure all the temps and pressures are in the green before we start the engine properly."

"Jay still has several weeks of focused rehabilitation to achieve. But this is the first big step in seven weeks, which is good from a mental and physical perspective for him," UAE team doctor Adrian Rotunno said.

"The spine is now stable enough to start with easy gentle outdoor rides with the aim of improving posture on the bike, and is key in preventing neuromuscular atrophy."

Vingegaard broke his collarbone and several ribs in the same crash while fellow Grand Tour winners Primoz Roglic and Remco Evenepoel also had to abandon, but all three, unlike Vine, could still be fit enough to compete in the Tour de France which starts on 29 June in Florence.