Victor Lafay of Cofidis launched a ferocious and brilliantly timed attack inside the final kilometer of today’s second stage of the Tour de France to take a brilliant, stunning win in San Sebastián. Following a second hilly stage in the Basque Country where the fast finishers were long gone from the front of the race, only 20-plus riders were left to contest the finale, including Jumbo-Visma’s Wout Van Aert, the presumed favorite. But Both Tom Pidcock of INEOS and Mattias Skjelmose of Trek tried attacks before the 1km banner, so when Lafay launched right at the banner from the back of the small group, Van Aert and jumbo hesitated just long enough to open the door for the Frenchman. From there, it came down to the speed Lafay could generate, and he had just enough to hold off the thundering herd for about a five-meter win, Cofidis’ first in the Tour de France for over a decade.
Neilson Powless of EF Education and Edvald Boasson Hagen of TotalEnergies escaped early on and Powless padded his lead in the KOM jersey over the first four of five rated climbs. But on the final ascent of the Jaizkebel, with Powless now alone, the peloton took charge and ramped up the pace, with the general classification hopefuls chasing bonus points awarded at the top of the climb. Tadej Pogacar of UAE scooped up the win there ahead of Jonas Vingegaard of Jumbo-Visma, and the two soloed down to the valley before a lead pack re-formed, thanks to Jumbo pulling the fast-finishing Van Aert into position.
But all that work left them vulnerable, not only with Van Aert having to cover attacks but his primary helper Tiesj Benoot lacking the speed to respond to the final, winning move. Van Aert charged off the front of the bunch, as expected, with Pogacar hot on his heels, but it was in vain, and the Belgian banged his bars in anger. Lafay’s victory puts him in the maillot vert as the overall points leader. Powless is set to hold the KOM jersey for a while. Pogacar will extend his years-long maillot blanc campaign til who knows when. Simon Yates of Jayco tried to get bonus seconds to wrest the yellow jersey from his brother Adam, but he only managed third on the Jaizkebel and remains six seconds off the family and overall lead.
- LAFAY Victor, Cofidis, 4:46:39
- VAN AERT Wout, Jumbo-Visma, s.t.
- POGAČAR Tadej, UAE Team Emirates
- PIDCOCK Thomas, INEOS Grenadiers
- BILBAO Pello, Bahrain - Victorious
- SKJELMOSE Mattias, Lidl - Trek
- WOODS Michael, Israel - Premier Tech
- BARDET Romain, Team dsm - firmenich
- TEUNS Dylan, Israel - Premier Tech
- HINDLEY Jai, BORA - hansgrohe
Vitoria-Gasteiz - San Sebastian 208.9 km
More hilly and challenging terrain with opportunities for climbers and puncheurs on day two. Interestingly we get to have Jaizkebel, the classic San Sebastian climb that rarely has a big impact in that race anymore, right in the finale as the likely decisive point.
Expected finish time: 17:05-17:30 CEST
Crêpe Hat of the Day : Wout van Aert
To keep any chatter away about any intra-team nonsense, Jumbo might make sure he gets this one.