For 15 years Cofidis failed to win a single stage of the Tour de France, now at the halfway point of the 2023 edition they already have two victories and are the second most winningest team in the race.
After Victor Lafay’s win in San Sebastián on stage two, Ion Izagirre doubled up for the French team in Belleville-en-Beaujolais on stage 12, attacking on the final climb from the breakaway and winning by 58 seconds.
It took a decade-and-a-half to end the drought and then just 11 days for the second win. “Above all, when Victor won it was a relief for the team,” Izagirre said after his own triumph. “It was a relief for a small team to win in the Tour de France, and a relief for a French team after 15 years. With Victor’s win and mine today, we have removed a lot of weight.”
A similar barren run has also been ended at this Tour - that of Spain’s wait for a victory. Pello Bilbao’s win on stage 10 in Issoire was the country’s first in five years, and Izagirre’s made it two Spanish victors in three days. “We were too many years without a winner, the last one was Omar [Fraile in 2018] and now we are two,” Izagirre said. “Hopefully the party continues like this.”
The 2023 race started in Basque Country, and it was not lost on Izagirre that both he and Bilbao are from the northern Spanish region.
“The people expected us to win at home, and us also,” the 34-year-old said, admitting that the parcours on stages one and two suited the many Basque riders on the startlist who also include Fraile and Mikel Landa. “It would have been better to win at home than here but those stages were all difficult and it wasn’t easy. Now we have won two stages in a few days and hopefully more come.”
For Cofidis, this will go down as a dream Tour. The hoodoo is ended and their status of the peloton’s laughing stock is no more.
“The goal is fulfilled but the Tour is not finished,” Izagirre said. “Our moral is sky-high and we will continue fighting, continue getting into breakaways and trying to win another stage.
“This weekend [in the Alps] is hard and I’m not sure if the stages will be for the breakaway or the GC group, but we will try to recover our strength and continue fighting.”
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