Frenchman Victor Lafay solos to win Giro d'Italia stage eight
Frenchman Victor Lafay of Cofidis won stage eight of the Giro d'Italia on Saturday as Hungarian Attila Valter of Groupama-FDJ kept hold of the overall race lead
The chief contenders for the 21-stage race, Egan Bernal and Remco Evenepoel, finished together on the eve of a major mountain-top finish Sunday when a shake up is expected.
Lafay bagged his first professional win and a first for Cofidis at the Giro in 11 years after joining a long range escape group of nine riders.
This group opened a seven-minute gap over the main peloton on the chief difficulty of the day, a 20km climb known as the Boca della Selva.
The 25-year-old Lafay kept his powder dry before pulling away with ease on the final shorter climb through olive groves and vineyards to Sanframondi.
"It was difficult to get away, but the peloton allowed us seven minutes, that kind of climb is where I'm best so I just waited for my moment," said Lafay.
Simon Yates, Romain Bardet and Aleksandr Vlasov crossed the line 4min 48sec later with Bernal and Evenepoel leaving the race poised for Sunday's showdown ahead of Monday's first rest day.
The 22-year-old Valter will race a third day in the overall leader's pink jersey.
"There were fans shouting my name and it'll be great to ride in the lead one more day, tomorrow will be really, really hard for sure," said the Hungarian.
Australian Caleb Ewan pulled out of the Giro some 35km into the eighth stage, having been dropped by the main pack in the early running and complaining of a sore knee.
The 26-year-old Lotto Soudal leader won stage five earlier in the week and stage seven on Friday, and was leading the sprint points classification.
Tomorrow's 9th stage of the Giro is a tough test of 158 kilometres in the Appennine mountains. The route takes in 3,400 vertical metres, while the finale at Campo Felice is extremely steep and unpaved in the last kilometres.
VIDEO: 2021 Giro d'Italia Stage 8 Highlights
2021 Giro d'Italia Stage 8 Top 10
1. Victor Lafay (FRA) Cofidis 4:06:47
2. Francesco Gavazzi (ITA) EOLO - Kometa Cycling Team +36
3. Nikias Arndt (GER) Team DSM +37
4. Nélson Oliveira (POR) Movistar Team +41
5. Giovanni Carboni (ITA) Bardiani - CSF - Faizanè +44
6. Kobe Goossens (BEL) Lotto - Soudal +58
7. Victor Campenaerts (BEL) Team Qhubeka - ASSOS +1:00
8. Alexis Gougeard (FRA) AG2R - Citroën Team +1:54
9. Fernando Gaviria (COL) UAE Team Emirates +3:04
10. João Almeida (POR) Deceuninck - Quick-Step +4:48
2021 Giro d'Italia GC after Stage 8 Top 10
1. Attila Valter (HUN) Groupama - FDJ 31:10:53
2. Remco Evenepoel (BEL) Deceuninck - Quick-Step +11
3. Egan Bernal (COL) INEOS Grenadiers +16
4. Aleksandr Vlasov (RUS) Astana - Premier Tech +24
5. Hugh Carthy (GBR) EF Education - Nippo +38
6. Damiano Caruso (ITA) Bahrain Victorious +39
7. Giulio Ciccone (ITA) Trek - Segafredo +41
8. Daniel Martin (IRL) Israel Start-Up Nation +47
9. Simon Yates (GBR) Team BikeExchange +49