When 25-year old Victor Lafay raised his arms to celebrate his stage 8 Giro d’Italia victory it was the first time in 11 years Cofidis had won at the Italian Grand Tour. His victory had echoes of Cofidis’ last stage win at the Giro, all the way back in 2010. It too came from a breakaway and from the legs of a rider with no prior Giro stage wins to his name.
Stage 17 of the 2010 Giro d’Italia included one categorized climb and a slow grind uphill to the finish in Peio Terme. It had been a hectic Giro up to that Wednesday, and with David Arroyo in the pink jersey, Caisse d’Epargne controlled the race from the start.
A 19-rider break went early in the stage containing Damien Monier, a long time member of the Cofidis team. Just like Lafay, Monier went clear of his breakaway companions on the final 3 km ascent to the finish, winning by 36-seconds. The Giro stage victory was the first for Monier, as it was the first for Lafay 11-years later.
Unlike the stage Monier won, Lafay had to fight to get into the breakaway. The stage 8 profile and upcoming stage 9 mountain day meant the composition of the break was changing constantly.
Once the break went it was a matter of waiting for the final climb, where Lafay was confident he would be able to shine.
“It’s incredible, it was a very tough day to take the breakaway was very difficult, but when it was gone the peloton left us seven minutes, so it was good we could recover a little,” Lafay said after the stage. “The finish, it was hard, it’s about 10 minutes effort and it’s where I’m the best. So I was focused all day for this effort and I’m really happy I did that.”
Lafay’s victory was the third in a string of victories for Cofidis. The day before Lafay won in Italy Jesús Herrada won at Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana, a 1.1 one day race in Spain. On May 13th Christophe Laporte took the win at the Circuit de Wallonie, another 1.1 one day.
As for the rest of the 2021 Giro d’Italia, Elia Viviani will be hunting for victory on home soil. Stage 10 looks to be a fabulous day for the sprinters, and with Caleb Ewan out of the race, that is one less fast man for Viviani to contend with. Already the Italian has claimed third on both stage 2 and stage 5. He has won 5 Giro d’Italia stages in the past, four in 2018 and one in 2015, and although he hasn’t been on top form recently, another stage win is not out of the question.