Mark Cavendish crashes out of Tour de France; Mads Pedersen wins Stage 8

 A man lying on a road is attended to by several people.
Mark Cavendish receives medical assistance after crashing during the eighth stage of the Tour de France on Saturday.
(Thibault Camus / Associated Press)
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With Mark Cavendish out of the picture, former world champion Mads Pedersen claimed a second career stage win at the Tour de France on Saturday with a big burst of power to win a mass sprint.

Defending champion Jonas Vingegaard kept the yellow jersey after the125-mile eighth stage from Libourne to Limoges in central France.

Pedersen proved the strongest in the long final stretch of road leading to the finish line and the Danish rider held off a late challenge from Jasper Philipsen, who had won all three previous sprints this year.


Wout Van Aert completed the stage podium in third.

The stage was marred by several crashes, including the one that ruled Cavendish out of the race. The ace sprinter hit the ground with 40 miles left while riding at the back of the peloton.

The British rider had finished second in Friday’s stage when Philipsen denied the rider known as the “Manx Missile” an outright record 35th Tour stage win. Cavendish equaled Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 wins on the 2021 Tour, 13 years after his first success. Cavendish, who has never won the Tour, unlike five-time champion Merckx, will retire at the end of the season.

Cavendish’s teammate Gianni Moscon said the veteran rider had to brake suddenly because of a crash in front of him.

“And someone changed line and he just hit the rear wheel of the guy in front of him and went down,” Moscon said. “It was quite bad. I stayed with him to see how he was, but he wasn’t able to go on with the race so we had to go back in the peloton.”

Cavendish went inside an ambulance to receive treatment and looked ashen-faced before his retirement from the race was announced.

Merckx amassed his wins in the 1960s and ‘70s, an era during which his domination was such that he earned the nickname of “The Cannibal.” Unlike Merckx — who did it a record five times — Cavendish has never won the Tour.


But his speed, prowess and longevity among his fellow sprinters have no equal at the Tour.

“It’s so sad for a legend to finish the Tour like this,” Pedersen said. “For me it was a pleasure to be able to ride with Mark Cavendish. I always had a good relationship with him in the peloton. Hopefully I can do some of the last races he does.”

Mads Pedersen holds out his arms at his sides as he crosses the finish line with several competitors behind him.
Mads Pedersen celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the eighth stage of the Tour de France on Saturday.
(Daniel Cole / Associated Press)

Cavendish became the fifth rider to abandon this year’s race after Enric Mas, Richard Carapaz, Jacopo Guarnieri and Luis Leon Sanchez, who all crashed out. That became six toward the end of Saturday’s stage when Belgian rider Steff Cras was caught in yet another pileup and retired.

Vingegaard spent the day well protected by his Jumbo-Visma teammates and kept his 25-second lead over two-time champion Tadej Pogacar in the general classification. Jai Hindley remained in third place, 1 minute, 34 seconds off the pace.

The pulsating duel between Pogacar and Vingegaard is expected to resume during Sunday’s ninth stage, which finishes with a spectacular climb to Puy-de-Dome, a famed volcanic crater in the Massif Central region of south-central France that last hosted a stage 35 years ago.

The mountain is part of the Tour lore and all cycling fans cherish the memorable duel to the summit between French rivals Jacques Anquetil and Raymond Poulidor in 1964. Anquetil went on that year to become the first five-time Tour winner.


The first rest day follows in Clermont-Ferrand on Monday.