Victor Lafay, a French cyclist, won the second stage of the Tour de France 2023, his first victory in the prestigious race. Meanwhile, despite the longest and most difficult stage from Vitoria-Gasteiz to San Sebastián, Britain’s Adam Yates managed to maintain his overall lead and keep his yellow shirt.
Lafay’s Surprise Victory
Lafay, who had already made a name for himself in the early stages, won the race for his Cofidis team for the first time in 15 years, striking clear of the race favourites in the final km. The 27-year-old Lyon cyclist, who had previously shone in the first stage to Bilbao, expressed his joy at his win. “I was a little frustrated yesterday, but to be there at the end today is incredible.” I knew there would be attacks at the finish, and I figured I could do something about it. “I just told myself, ‘Go for it,'” he explained.
Wout Van Aert of Jumbo-Visma was visibly disappointed after finishing second to Lafay, displaying a distinct sense of frustration at not being able to clinch the stage win.
Chaos on the Track
The stage, however, was not without dispute. Several spectators disrupted the race by scattering tacks throughout the road, resulting in punctures for up to 20-25 cyclists. “Someone sprayed some tacks on the road because we saw 15-20 punctures,” said Matt White, head of performance for the Jayco AlUla squad. This unfortunate event cast a shadow over the race, marking a significant point of tension.
Simultaneously, Tadej Pogacar of UAE Team Emirates secured significant bonus seconds over his competitors by reaching the peak of Jaizkibel, the day’s penultimate climb, first. This put him in second place overall, just six seconds behind Adam Yates. “In the end, we set up Tadej for the bonus seconds, and I think we did a good job in the end.” “It was all about the bonus seconds and the final – if Tadej had won the bonus and the stage, he would have beaten me, but we kept [the yellow jersey] with the team,” Adam Yates explained.
The Tour continues from Spain to France on Monday’s third stage, which might result in a victory for Mark Cavendish. It will take riders around an 187.54km circuit from Amorebieta-Etxano to Bayonne, providing a realistic opportunity for the sprinter to break Eddy Merckx’s record of 35 Tour stage wins.