Tour de France 2023: Victor Lafay wins stage two thanks to a brilliantly timed attack

Victor Lafay wins stage two thanks to brain and legs after looking strong the day before

Victor Lafay (Cofidis) won stage two of the 2023 Tour de France thanks to a brilliantly timed attack under the flamme rouge. Once he had a gap he managed to hold it and stayed clear to the finish line despite the best effort of Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), who was coming in fast – but not fast enough.

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) finished third, gaining more time bonuses that moved him into second overall, after also gaining bonuses atop the final climb of the day. His teammate Adam Yates hung onto the yellow jersey for another day, although Pogačar now trails him by just six seconds.

Victor Lafay wins Stage 2 of the 2023 Tour de France

(Image credit: THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Tour de France 2023 stage two: How it happened

After a few false starts, a breakaway formed and was made up of the King of the Mountains Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost), veteran Tour rider Edvald Boasson Hagen (TotalEnergies) and powerhouse Rémi Cavagna (Soudal-Quick Step). With 184km to go they were soon over three minutes ahead/

They rolled through the first intermediate sprint to take the top three allocations of points, Powless dropping to the back to allow Boasson Hagen to come through first –  a sensible move for the cohesion of the group and its chances of going all the way to the end.

For Powless, he needed the assistance of his fellow escapees to stay out for as many of the five categorised climbs as possible. As it was, he collected two points over the first summit and one point over the second, with first place on each. He even celebrated the first summit.

UAE Team Emirates appeared to expend a lot of energy on the front of the peloton, controlling things for much of the day.

A puncture for Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) was made more panicked when a crash happened nearby, as he was going back through the peloton for assistance, brought down several riders and saw him caught up in the aftermath – but significantly he didn't hit the road himself.

The pace shot up on the final climb of the day, the second category Jaizkibel. Powless was still ahead but with 6km to the summit his advantage dropped below a minute. 

Dylan van Baarle (Jumbo-Visma) was on the front for about seven pedal strokes when Rafał Majka (UAE Team Emirates) had other ideas and came back to the front, upping the pace and stringing it out.

The Yates brothers looked like they'd be the ones jostling for the summit of the Jaizkibel, but they faded as Vingegaard and Pogačar dropped everyone over the summit. Pogačar was first over the line to take an eight second bonus to his rival's five seconds.

The lead duo descended speed. Pogačar looked keener to push on than Vingegaard and soon they were caught by a much-reduced group.

Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) went clear on the descent and held on for a while once the road had flattened out, but it was a big ask for him to do 7km solo against the combined power behind.

He was caught with 5.4km to go, as behind in the chasing line Van Aert was tightening his shoes. Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) had a go but nothing came of it.

With 2.6km to go Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) had a dig but Van Aert was straight onto him. Mattias Skjelmose (Lidl-Trek) went next and again Van Aert closed it down – much energy expended as everyone looked to him to close everything down.

Just before the flamme rouge, Victor Lafay (Cofidis) attacked and got a gap... and it proved decisive.

Tour de France 2023: stage two results

1. Victor Lafay (Cofidis) in 4:46:39
2. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)
3. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates)
4. Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers)
5. Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious)
6. Mattias Skjelmose (Lidl-Trek)
7. Michael Woods (Israel-Premier Tech)
8. Romain Bardet (DSM-Firmenich)
9. Dylan Teuns (Israel-Premier Tech)
10. Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe), all same time

Tour de France 2023: General classification top 10 after stage two

1. Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) in 9:09:18
2. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), at 00:06
3. Simon Yates (Jayco-AlUla), at same time
4. Victor Lafay (Cofidis), at 00:12
5. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), at 00:16
6. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), at 00:17
7. Michael Woods (Israel-PremierTech), at 00:22
8. Mattias Skjelmose (Lidl-Trek), at same time
9. Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe), at same time
10. Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious), at same time

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