After Mark Cavendish’s exit due to a suspected broken collarbone, the ex-world champion Mads Pedersen secured his second Tour de France stage victory on Saturday, powering through to win the group sprint.
The current champion, Jonas Vingegaard, retained the yellow jersey post the eighth stage, spanning 201 kilometres from Libourne to Limoges in central France.
Pedersen, hailing from Denmark, emerged the strongest on the final stretch to the finish line, successfully fending off Jasper Philipsen who had bagged all three previous sprints this year. Riding for Lidl-Trek, Pedersen commended his team’s perfect setup. Wout Van Aert secured third place on the stage.
This stage was marked by multiple accidents, including the one that led to Cavendish’s exit 64 kilometres from the finish. Cavendish, a British rider known as the “Manx Missile”, was hoping to beat the existing record of 34 Tour stage wins, a feat he tied with Eddy Merckx in 2021. However, Cavendish, unlike Merckx, has never won the Tour and plans to retire at the end of this season.
Vingegaard, backed by his Jumbo-Visma team, maintained his 25-second lead over double champion Tadej Pogacar. Jai Hindley remained third, trailing by 1 minute and 34 seconds.
The thrilling contest between Pogacar and Vingegaard is set to continue on the ninth stage on Sunday, concluding with a climb to Puy-de-Dome, a famous volcanic crater in south-central France.
The mountain holds a special place in Tour history due to the legendary rivalry between Jacques Anquetil and Raymond Poulidor in 1964. Anquetil that year became the first five-time Tour winner.
Stage 8 saw several attacks right from the start, yet the main group of riders managed to counter them. Veteran Belgian cyclist Tim Declercq, along with Frenchmen Anthony Delaplace and Anthony Turgis, eventually managed to break free. The sprinter teams, happy to see only three cyclists break away, slowed their pace and let the trio move ahead. They had a maximum lead of 4 minutes and 40 seconds but were eventually caught up in the final leg of the race in time for the uphill sprint to the line.
2023 Tour de France Stage 8 result
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