Tour de France Stage 2: Lafay Maintains French Tradition in San Sebastien

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TOUR DE FRANCE 2023 | STAGE 2 | VITORIA-GASTEIZ > SAINT-SÉBASTIEN

Victor Lafay escaped from the group of the favourites one kilometre before the end to deliver the stage victory the Cofidis team waited for fifteen year – since Sylvain Chavanel outclassed Jérémy Roy in Montluçon in 2008. Lafay maintained the tradition of French stage wins in San Sebastian after Louis Caput in 1949 and Dominique Arnould in 1992. Third on the line, Tadej Pogacar gained four seconds of time bonus while Adam Yates retained the yellow jersey.

POWLESS, BOASSON HAGEN AND CAVAGNA IN THE LEAD

174 riders started stage 2 in Vitoria-Gasteiz at 12.32. One non-starter: Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost). Three riders managed to go clear at km 8, firstly Edvald Boasson Hagen (TotalEnergies) and Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost), joined secondly by Rémi Cavagna (Soudal-Quick Step). The maximum time gap of 4’55’’ was recorded at km 68 as Vegard Stake Laengen was pulling the bunch for UAE Team Emirates until his team-mate Mikkel Bjerg took over. The peloton was 2’30’’ adrift and it was raining when Mark Cavendish got dropped in a non-categorized climb with 83km to go. Cavagna could no longer hold the pace in the ascent to Alkiza where Powless mathematically secured his polka dot jersey at km 140.9. All the riders dropped got back to the pack with 57km to go as they followed Cavendish’s servant Gianni Moscon.

02/07/2023 – Tour de France 2023 – Etape 2 – Vitoria-Gasteiz / Saint-Sébastien (208,9 km) – POGACAR Tadej (UAE TEAM EMIRATES) © A.S.O./Pauline Ballet

POGACAR FIRST AT JAIZKIBEL

With 40km to go, the deficit of the peloton was down to two minutes. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citroën) crashed 37km before the end but got back to the pack pretty quickly. With 36km to go, Powless distanced Boasson Hagen and continued solo en route to the Jaizkibel, the main difficulty of the main located 16.5km away from the finishing line.

02/07/2023 – Tour de France 2023 – Etape 2 – Vitoria-Gasteiz / Saint-Sébastien (208,9 km) – POWLESS Neilson (EF EDUCATION – EASYPOST) @ A.S.O./Charley Lopez

The American had 1’30’’ lead at the bottom of 8-km long climb. He was reeled in 2.5km before the summit and it was all together again with 19.5km remaining. Pogacar won the bonus point atop the Jaizkibel before Vingegaard while Simon Yates crested in third position. Pogacar and Vingegaard went away in the downhill but were brought back by the reduced yellow jersey group with 12km to go.

02/07/2023 – Tour de France 2023 – Etape 2 – Vitoria-Gasteiz / Saint-Sébastien (208,9 km) – POWLESS Neilson (EF EDUCATION – EASYPOST) @ A.S.O./Charley Lopez

NEILSON POWLESS: “I IMMEDIATELY FELL IN LOVE WITH THE POLKA DOT JERSEY”

“Today’s stage went sort of according to plan. We wanted to be on the breakaway, be it with me or with any of my teammates. In the end it was me who went on a breakaway that was too small and made me spend more energy than I would have liked. When the road got wet, we started to hope and believe it might be possible to make it to the finish.”

02/07/2023 – Tour de France 2023 – Etape 2 – Vitoria-Gasteiz / Saint-Sébastien (208,9 km) – POWLESS Neilson (EF EDUCATION – EASYPOST) – Avec le maillot à pois @ A.S.O./Charley Lopez

“Unfortunately, I lost Rémi [Cavagna] and Edvald [Boasson Hagen] too early. Had we been together until Jaizkibel, we may had made it to the finish line, but we were all in our limit. When I hit Jaizkibel, the only thing I could do was riding on my threshold and hoping for the best. But, as things panned out, I would have needed to be one minute faster up the climb to keep the main group at bay. It just wasn’t meant to be my day. As for the KOM classification, it’s still a narrow lead – if I miss one break in the mountains it will be gone, and we are still a long way from reaching Paris. It’s very nice to be in the lead. I’m already in love with this polka-dot jersey. I fell immediately in love with it, indeed. Let’s see for how long I can wear it.”

LAFAY SOLOES AT THE FLAMME ROUGE

Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) rode away solo at the end of the downhill. He was reeled in with 5.5km to go by 25 riders. Jumbo-Visma led the group until Victor Lafay (Cofidis) attacked with 1km to go. The Frenchman fended off the riders sprinting behind him to beat Wout van Aert and claim his first Tour de France stage win, two years after he imposed himself in a stage of the Giro d’Italia as well.

VICTOR LAFAY: “IT WAS PLANNED”

“When I attacked, I didn’t even evaluate if it was going to work or not. Then I was seeing the finishing line getting closer and my power getting lower in numbers but it has worked out. It’s crazy. This was definitely planned. Yesterday it wasn’t planned when I accompanied Pogacar and Vingegaard at the top of the last climb. Today I didn’t want to do anything in the hill except for keeping up with the top guns. It’s a relief for Cofidis to finally get a stage win. I’ve been hearing about this for five years since I joined the team. I’m happy to free the team from this burden. We’ll keep going. We want more. Bryan Coquard is also very strong.”

02/07/2023 – Tour de France 2023 – Etape 2 – Vitoria-Gasteiz / Saint-Sébastien (208,9 km) – LAFAY Victor (COFIDIS) – Vainqueur de l’étape @ A.S.O./Charley Lopez
02/07/2023 – Tour de France 2023 – Etape 2 – Vitoria-Gasteiz / Saint-Sébastien (208,9 km) – LAFAY Victor (COFIDIS) – Vainqueur de l’étape @ A.S.O./Charley Lopez

ADAM YATES: “WE WANTED TO SET UP TADEJ FOR THE BONUS SPRINT”

“It has been a really hectic day, up and down all day. We went by several villages and that meant there were lots of roundabouts and road furniture. We had a bit of bad luck, with Matteo [Trentin] crashing on one corner. Anyway, the guys did a great job. We controlled the bunch all day long, as nobody wanted to help us. In Jaizkibel we wanted to set up Tadej for the bonus sprint, and he got the most seconds – so all in all it’s gone well. As for me keeping the yellow jersey, all was down to the bonus seconds awarded in the final sprint. Had Tadej won the stage, he would have overtaken me. But as long as we had kept the yellow jersey in the team, it would have been good. It’s not easy to defend this jersey. The next two days are easier on paper, yet this is the Tour de France and every day is super hard and super technical. We’ll see what happens.”

02/07/2023 – Tour de France 2023 – Etape 2 – Vitoria-Gasteiz / Saint-Sébastien (208,9 km) – YATES Adam (UAE TEAM EMIRATES) – Avec le maillot Jaune @ A.S.O./Charley Lopez

TADEJ POGACAR: “MY WRIST IS A BIT SORE…”

“The plan was to go for the bonus seconds and win the stage. We didn’t win, but it’s still a good day – except for Matteo Trentin’s crash, I hope he is well. Now I expect that we will take it easier over the next two days. We are in a perfect situation right now. After yesterday’s stage, what we had to do today was quite clear: defend the jersey, and take some more seconds on our rivals.”

02/07/2023 – Tour de France 2023 – Etape 2 – Vitoria-Gasteiz / Saint-Sébastien (208,9 km) – POGACAR Tadej (UAE TEAM EMIRATES) – Avec le maillot blanc @ A.S.O./Charley Lopez

“My wrist is now a bit sore after all the sprinting today, but it’s better every day. Today’s stage was a bit bumpy and technical, with many speed bumps, corners and potholes. Even if it’s a bit sore now, it feels better every day, so no problem.”

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