Victor Lafay from Cofidis snatched victory in the second stage of the 2023 Tour de France with a perfectly timed attack just before the flamme rouge. Despite Wout van Aert from Jumbo-Visma’s intense pursuit, Lafay maintained his lead to secure the win.
Tadej Pogačar of UAE Team Emirates claimed third place, securing additional time bonuses that propelled him to second place overall. Pogačar’s teammate Adam Yates held onto the yellow jersey for one more day after his win yesterday, though Pogačar is now a mere six seconds behind.
The breakaway group of the race, featuring King of the Mountains Neilson Powless, seasoned competitor Edvald Boasson Hagen and Rémi Cavagna, secured a more than three-minute lead with 184km remaining. Powless strategically allowed Boasson Hagen to pass through the first intermediate sprint first, strengthening their group’s unity and chances of enduring to the end.
However, a puncture for Jonas Vingegaard and a nearby crash added tension to the race, although he managed to escape without falling.
UAE Team Emirates dominated much of the day, with Pogačar and Vingegaard outpacing all others over the summit of the second category Jaizkibel. Pogačar secured an eight-second bonus, leading him and Vingegaard to descend with impressive speed. However, they were soon caught by a significantly reduced group.
Pello Bilbao went ahead on the descent but was caught with 5.4km remaining. Despite efforts from other riders, none could break free from the pack until Lafay made his decisive move just before the flamme rouge, securing his win.
“For once, I had a plan. I knew I didn’t have the legs to attack over the hump, and besides, that’s often where the strongest riders attack, so there was no point. When I saw that the Jumbo-Visma team were coming back on Tadej, I thought I’d take advantage. As I approached the last kilometre, I attacked and didn’t question my decision. I took off hard on the left, opposite to where they were. After that, I worked as hard as I could, leaning over the bike as much as possible like Benjamin Thomas did last year.
And let’s face it, we’ve got great bikes, and they’re really good aero-wise, so I think that obviously helped. I didn’t have time to think I was going to win, I could see the line and I knew I could be caught on the line. At no point did I say to myself ‘it’s done’. Once I crossed the line, I realised: “Wait a minute, there’s nobody in front of me? I’ve won. Does that mean I’ve won?” And then I raise my arms, it’s incredible!”Victor Lafay
2023 Tour de France Stage 2
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Photo Credits: Getty