Guardia Sanframondi (Italy) (AFP)
Frenchman Victor Lafay de Cofidis won the eighth stage of the Giro d’Italia on Saturday, while Hungarian Attila Valter from Groupama-FDJ retained the lead in the general standings.
The main contenders for the 21-stage race, Egan Bernal and Remco Evenepoel, finished together on the eve of a major mountain-top finish on Sunday, with a shake-up expected.
Lafay won his first professional victory and a first for Cofidis at the Giro in 11 years after joining a long-distance breakout group of nine riders.
This group opened a seven-minute gap over the main peloton on the main difficulty of the day, a 20km climb known as Boca della Selva.
Lafay, 25, kept his powder dry before pulling away easily on the final, shorter climb through olive groves and vineyards to Sanframondi.
“It was hard to get away, but the peloton gave us seven minutes, that kind of climb is where I’m best so I just bided my time,” said Lafay.
Simon Yates, Romain Bardet and Aleksandr Vlasov crossed the line 4:48 minutes later, with Bernal and Evenepoel leaving the race ready for Sunday’s showdown before Monday’s first day of rest.
Valter, 22, will run a third day in the pink jersey of the leader of the general classification.
“There were fans screaming my name and it will be great to take the lead one more day, tomorrow will be really very difficult for sure,” said the Hungarian.
Australian Caleb Ewan withdrew from the Giro around 35 km from the eighth stage, after being abandoned by the main peloton at the start of the race and complaining of knee pain.
The 26-year-old Lotto leader Soudal won the fifth stage earlier in the week and the seventh stage on Friday, and led the points classification in the sprint.
© 2021 AFP