He fought to cross the Alps, arrived last but on time at Alpe d'Huez, but it was a flat stage that got the better of him.
Victor Lafay, 26, off-road rider for Cofidis, abandoned the Tour de France this Friday between Le Bourg d'Oisans and Saint-Étienne.
Exhausted, disappointed, the stage winner on the Giro 2021 had come with ambitions on his first Tour.
More than the heat, he evokes breathing difficulties to explain his abandonment.
You had managed to cross the Alps.
How do you explain your abandonment today?
The profile of the stage today was nevertheless less difficult.
But I had nothing at all, impossible to raise, badly everywhere.
It was no better than the previous days, on the contrary.
I had no choice to give up, I wouldn't have finished on time.
At least I'll be able to recover now.
I think I need it.
It's not the first difficult day, but you were hoping for better...
You always have to keep hope.
It's the Tour de France, an exceptional race, you must never give up.
We tell ourselves that sometimes we can bounce back, get better when we are sick.
But there, it's been eight days and there is no improvement, it's even worse and worse.
It takes rest for it to pass.
Is it because of the heat?
The heat, again, is fine.
We are well supplied, we water ourselves, we have ice cubes.
I didn't find it horrible today.
After that I didn't finish the stage… I think it will be harder in the Pyrenees, the heat in the passes, it's more complicated.
Whereas there, with a certain speed, it goes all the same.
“We all have our lungs screwed up”
What were your symptoms then?
No forces, and then impossible to breathe.
I talked about it in the peloton, there are many who have it.
Castroviejo (Ineos), he told me it was the same, Pierre Rolland (B&B Hôtels KTM) too, Naesen (AG2R Citroën) who retired had also told me about it.
We are all negative to the Covid tests.
So either we're negative but we still have it, or it's something else.
We talk a lot about the Covid, but there may be something else.
In any case, we all have the lungs screwed up.
And when the muscles are not oxygenated, after a while it can no longer work.
You were hoping for something else for this first Tour de France…
It's clear, I came to try to win a stage.
So don't go all the way, it's really horrible.
It's not at all what I was hoping for.
Not even a month ago at the Dauphiné, things were going really well.
Yesterday I was last at the top of the Croix de Fer, while in Dauphiné I was in the first group!
And yet I was in pain both times.
It's really that there is something wrong.
I need to rest, there are some great races at the end of the season.