CYCLING: The Frenchman from Cofidis imposed himself under the nose and beard of all the leaders of the general on the promenade of San Sebastian
- Already monstrous on Saturday on the roads of the Basque Country, Frenchman Victor Lafay won the second stage of the Tour de France 2023 on Sunday in San Sebastian.
- It is the first French victory this year and the first success for the Cofidis team on the Tour since Sylvain Chavanel, in 2008.
- Gone like a bomb under the red flame, the Cofidis climber-puncher fined the behemoths of the Tour, like van Aert or Pogacar.
He had already stunned us on Saturday when he was the only one with the pace still in the green to follow the two breakaways of the peloton in the worst points of Pike hill. But the blow of the kilometre in the streets of San Sebastián, we bow definitively. Victor Lafay is the man at the start of the Tour de France, considering that Pogacar and Vingegaard belong to another species. And he’s French, which doesn’t spoil anything besides calming people down a bit. Last year, we had to wait for the 19th stage to see Laporte raise his arms. The lack of results quickly becomes an unbearable burden on the frail tricolour shoulders after a week of peeling potatoes in the shallows of the peloton.
In short, that’s settled, and how. We counted the dead, including Pinot and Alaphilippe, dropped at almost three minutes on the large acceleration of the UAE in the last ramps of the Jaizkibel, and the way Van Aert was going to scatter everyone in a sprint when Lafay emerged from nowhere go. The great world was looking at each other on the right, Pogacar and Vingegaard in the lead. The 27-year-old Cofidis climber-puncher, winner of a stage on the Giro in 2021, chose to send a rocket on the left side near the barriers, top speed measured at 61.2 km/h.
Disgusted Van Aert
Poor Van Aert, who had been chasing everything that moved since the end of the descent to ensure arrival in a cab, hesitated for a second as if to think “Who is this fu***ng Cofidis?”, and that was enough for Lafay to take 50 meters. 50 meters which will only be 2 or 3 on the finish line. We are witnessing a kind of remake of Benjamin Thomas’ distance duel with the peloton last year on a similar straight line but with a happier ending for Cofidis, who was awaiting its first victory since Sylvain Chavanel in 2008. Another millennium.
“This victory is well deserved for the whole team, we have been working for years on the composition of a group capable of winning on the Tour, rejoiced its sports director Cédric Vasseur at the microphone of RMC. We had already felt yesterday that Victor had fantastic legs, today he was breathtaking, he had an appointment with his destiny. He boldly seized his chance. In the end, it’s deliverance. That he takes advantage of this great moment, very few runners are able to do it”.
“It’s a sick thing!”
The hero of the day, we come back to it, dazed by his prowess at the microphone of France TV: “Saturday, I was disappointed with how I had cycled. For once I ran with my head, I said to myself, make or break it, but I saw that the Jumbos had been driven a lot. For a moment it settled down, I went all the way to the left, and that’s it. When I made my effort, I didn’t even think about winning, then I saw that I had taken a little lead, I recovered a tooth I believed in it until the end. Yesterday I was a little frustrated at the finish, there I took advantage of the marking. It’s a sick thing. I’ve been here for five years, I’m super happy to free the team from this burden.
To tell you how unaccustomed the buddies are, they almost learned of Lafay’s victory from the journalists of France TV, when they finished cushy several minutes behind the leading group. Asked by a colleague about the “sacred number” of his boyfriend, Alex Perez laughs: “Yeah, I did not see, you know? I was on the bike. Two kilometres from the finish, the guys ask me who won, I say “yeah, it’s Victor!”. They tell me “noooo?”. I say “but no, I’m kidding!”. And on the line I see it’s him, I say “damn the con!” “.
Axel Zingle was also on his ass: “I saw him on the podium crossing the line, I said to myself “what has he done to us again?”. I saw that he had a medal around his neck, I said to myself “no, still not?”. He must have the combative or something like that, but it was explained to me that he had won, I went to see him directly. Each time we say to ourselves “it’s not ideal for him, he would have to arrive in a bump”, but in the end he is doing quite well”. We would not like to be the hotel staff who will have to sleep the staff of the northern team on Sunday evening in San Sebastian. But a victory 15 years later is well worth a Patxaran binge.