Tour de France 2023 – Stage 8

Pedersen sprints to victory in Limoges, Cavendish crashes out of the Tour

Stage 8 of the Tour de France was a hilly affair, as the riders travelled 200.7km from Libourne to Limoges, with a drag up to the finish line. The stage was won by Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek), who outsprinted Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) in a reduced bunch sprint, while Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) retained the yellow jersey ahead of Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates). Absent from the fray was Mark Cavendish who crashed, breaking his collarbone, with about 60km remaining.

Mads Pedersen claims Stage 8 in Limoges
Mads Pedersen claims Stage 8 in Limoges

How it happened

Profile of Stage 8 of the 2023 Tour de France
Profile of Stage 8 of the 2023 Tour de France © A.S.O. / Charly Lopez

The stage was marked by a breakaway of six riders, who escaped early on and built up a maximum lead of over five minutes. The escapees were Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Dstny), Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Simon Clarke (Qhubeka-NextHash), Jonas Koch (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Sean Bennett (EF Education-EasyPost) and Fabien Doubey (TotalEnergies).

The breakaway was never given much leeway by the peloton, which was controlled by Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates for most of the day. The gap started to come down on the first climb of the day, the Côte de Champs-Romain (2.8km at 5.2%), where Perez took the maximum points ahead of Campenaerts and Clarke.

Cavendish Out of the Tour

Mark Cavendish’s dream of breaking the record for the most Tour de France stage wins ended in agony on stage 8, as he crashed out of the race with a broken collarbone. The British sprinter, who had equalled Eddy Merckx’s tally of 34 victories on stage 13, was involved in a pile-up with about 60km to go on the hilly stage from Libourne to Limoges. He was seen holding his shoulder and grimacing in pain before being taken away in an ambulance.

Cavendish, who had announced his retirement at the end of the season, had come close to making history on stage 7, but was denied by a gear issue in the final sprint. He had won four stages in this year’s Tour, defying expectations after being a late call-up by his Deceuninck-QuickStep team. His crash left his fans and teammates heartbroken, as he bid farewell to his final Tour.

Breakaway gives way for a sprint finish

The second climb, the Côte de Masmont (1.3km at 5.5%), saw Perez repeat his feat, followed by Campenaerts and Doubey. The breakaway still had a lead of over three minutes at this point, but it was clear that they would not make it to the finish.

The third and final climb, the Côte de Condat-sur-Vienne (1.2km at 5.4%), was where the breakaway fell apart, as Campenaerts attacked and dropped his companions, while Perez crashed on a corner and had to abandon the race. Behind him, Clarke and Koch tried to chase down Campenaerts, while Bennett and Doubey were caught by the peloton.

Campenaerts reached the top of the climb with a lead of one minute over Clarke and Koch, and two minutes over the peloton, which was led by Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates. The Belgian time trial specialist gave his all on the flat run-in to Limoges, but he was eventually reeled in with 4km to go.

The stage was then set for a sprint finish, but it was not a straightforward one, as the last kilometre had a 3.1% gradient that favoured the stronger riders. Van Aert looked like the favourite, as he had his Jumbo-Visma teammates leading him out, but he was surprised by Pedersen, who launched his sprint from far out and held off Philipsen and Van Aert to take his second Tour de France stage win.

Vingegaard finished safely in the main group and kept his yellow jersey for another day, with a lead of 35 seconds over Pogacar and 2:29 over Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-Quickstep). The other GC contenders also finished in the same time, with no changes in the top ten overall.

Stage 8 Results and GC

The Tour de France continues on Sunday with a mountainous stage from Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat to Puy de Dôme, which features four climbs, including an uphill finish on the extinct volcano.