Giro stage 8 – winner Victor Lafay

On a lumpy stage with a tougher one on Sunday, stage 8 was given over to a breakaway and from that Victor Lafay won the stage, Attila Valter holds onto the Pink jersey

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Giro stage 8 – winner Victor Lafay

Today (Saturday), the peloton in the Giro d’Italia began a weekend in the Apennines before the first rest day scheduled for Monday. Leaving from Foggia, in the Puglia region, the riders were heading to Campania region via Lucena. Along the way were several uncategorized climbs, before facing the imposing Bocca del Selva (19 km at 4.6%) after 100 km of racing, which rose up to 1300 metres above sea level. Fourty kilometres of downhill followed towards Telese Terme before the uphill section to the summit finish on the 4th category climb.

No one was able to break away from the peloton during the first two hours of the race but after 70 kilometres, nine (Alexis Gougeard, Giovanni Carboni, Victor Lafay, Francesco Gavazzi, Kobe Goossens, Nelson Oliveira, Nikias Arndt, Fernando Gaviria and Victor Campenaerts who was the last one to join the break) riders finally got the green light. Shortly after, Simone Petilli crashed in a tunnel. Fortunately, the Italian got away with scuffs and was able to quickly regain his place in the peloton.

The leading group had a seven-minute lead at the top of Bocca del Selva, 50 kilometers from the finish whilst the Pink jersey group climbed the 2nd category mountain at a moderate pace and a group of around a hundred riders began the long descent towards Guardia Sanframondi, six minutes down on the nine escapees. Whilst the gap to the breakaway started to come down, they had enough to play out their tactics as they approached the climb.

This included attacks on the descent before the final climb where Fernando Gaviria crashed but managed to rejoin the front group which split well and truly as the attacks began on the climb.

Victor Campenaerts and Giovanni Carboni escaped for a while chased first by Alexis Gougeard and then Francesco Gavazzi but it was the move by Frenchman Victor Lafay that was the most solid and he caught and past the riders in front. Chased by Francesco Gavazzi, Lafay kept the pressure on the pedals and held the gap all the way to the line with Gavazzi second and Nikias Arndt in third.

Victor Lafay, the stage winner, said afterwards “It’s incredible. Yeah! it was a very tough day. To get into the breakaway it was very difficult, but when it was done the peloton left us 7 minutes, so it was good, we can recover a little. The finish? It was hard, but it was a 10 minute effort, and one time were the best, so yeah, I feel good today for this effort, and I’m really happy I did it. I knew that they were not climbers but Oliveira, I think,was the best one, so I keep an eye on him. But, yeah, I was confident with my legs, I attacked 3 km to go, and I don’t believe it now I’ve just won!”

In the battle for the GC, Joao Almeida led the 20 plus selection across the line in 10th place ahead of all the GC favourites. Pink jersey Valter still leads.

GC Favs
11. Aleksandr Vlasov
13. Remco Evenepoel
16. Marc Soler
17. Egan Bernal
18. Simon Yates
20. Romain Bardet
21. Giulio Ciccone
22. Emanuel Buchmann
29. Attila Valter (race leader)

Pink jersey after stage 8 Attila Valter, who just avoided a crash in the finale, explained “I never get used to this feeling! I mean, the first days I was wondering what it feels like to be Filippo Ganna in Italy, and a little bit now I get this feeling. Many people were shouting my name today and yesterday, and, yep, today was also the perfect day to be in the Maglia Rosa, the finish was hard but, yeah, I enjoyed every moment.”

Like the grandmaster Alejandro Valverde says, “Tactically we were perfect today”! We let the perfect breakaway to go, with 9 riders with a large gap in the GC, and then we controlled the whole day so that we could stay out of trouble and stay in a good place in the front all day, and arriving quite fresh to the final climb. We just had to survive that one, but I am happy that that happened, and I’m of course really happy to spend one more day in the Maglia Rosa.”

“I didn’t think too much about [the GC contenders attacking me]. I know if this happens then I just have to follow as much as possible. I did not think that for them would be the best opportunity today to get the Maglia Rosa and put pressure on their teams, of course, but it’s really hectic when it’s so many corner and quite technical finish, so everybody wants to stay at the front, and that cannot happen: somebody has to be at the back always, so, I know that I have to be aware that something can happen, But, yeah, tomorrow will be bit harder to defend, I think.”

Nikias Arndt (DSM) (3rd) “We’ve rode really well as a team all race so far but we were just missing that result and now we have it, so I’m supper happy and it’s a nice day for us,” smiled Arndt at the finish. “Day by day I’m feeling better and the team is riding really strongly too. It was really tough with a lot of jumping in the beginning, especially on the uphill part. We had Nico [Roche] and Michael in a few breaks and then I followed a move that was really going full gas and that was that. There were some stronger climbers than me in there. I’ve proved in the past that I can climb well, but on the last climb I was fully on the limit. Of course when we go in the break we’re looking for the win but we knew it would be a tricky one and I think we played it smart in the finish so I’m happy with the third place today; it’s a good day.”

Victor Campenaerts: (Qhubeka ASSOS) [On bridging the gap] It was terrible, really really terrible. I tried a few times to get in before we had a small climb and then I suffered a lot to get over the climb and then the breakaway went for free in the downhill. I was not so happy to see that so I thought to let’s try and get there but they didn’t wait for me and the peloton was also chasing at that point with Bora. So that was my time trial of the day, early on in the stage when nobody was watching television! I knew it would be very, very hard to win the stage with an uphill finish because I am not really a climber but I managed to get into a successful break and I also tried to do some sort of final to try and escape before we hit the climb, I put a lot of effort into that for only 10 seconds.”


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