Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) sped to his third stage victory of the 2023 Tour de France on Friday’s stage 3, making a late surge to overtake Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan) in Bordeaux.
The 25-year-old Belgian followed the leadout of Mathieu van der Poel in the finale until other sprint teams stormed to the front, with Cavendish sprinting into the lead with around 150 meters to go. Philipsen, however, was well positioned just behind, and when he launched, he powered into the lead and held on to take a convincing win. Cavendish settled for second with Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) taking third.
Although there was plenty of argy-bargy in the final moments of the race, the peloton made it through the finish without any crashes this time. All of the major GC hopefuls also finished safely, with Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) retaining the yellow jersey.
How it happened
- There was little chance of anything other than a sprint finish for the largely flat stage from Mont-de-Marsan, and a hard-charging peloton caught Nans Peters (Arkéa-Samsic) and Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies) inside the final few kilometers to set up the inevitable bunch kick. Jumbo-Visma and Alpecin-Fenix led the way into the last 3 km, and then Alpecin took full control of the pack.
- The Alpecin leadout did not take Philipsen quite as deep into the finale as they had done in his previous two victories, with several other teams swamping the front inside the final kilometer. Philipsen maintained a strong position a few wheels back, however, and when Cavendish launched, he jumped onto the Manx veteran’s wheel. In the process, he made some contact with Girmay, who was forced to brake to avoid hitting the barriers, but the jury deemed the move acceptable enough not to penalize Philipsen.
- When Philipsen did make his final push, he quickly surged in front of Cavendish, who faded rapidly, apparently dealing with gearing issues. Philipsen took a clear win with Cavendish in second and Girmay, putting up a hand in frustration, taking third.
- Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 3:46:28
- Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan)
- Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty)
- Luca Mozzato (Arkéa-Samsic)
- Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco-AlUla) all @ same time
- Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) 29:57:12
- Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) @ :25
- Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) @ 1:34
- Simon Yates (Jayco AlUla) @ 3:14
- Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos Grenadiers) @ 3:30
- Alpecin’s leadout train put Philipsen into a solid position with a kilometer to go but other teams then took over control at the front, leaving Philipsen to surf the wheels. He did so effectively but not without controversy, bumping Girmay in the final few hundred meters. Upon review, the jury did not see anything worthy of relegation.
- For a few tantalizing moments, it seemed like Cavendish might break Eddy Merckx’s record for career Tour stage wins, but Cavendish faded fast in the closing meters. He said afterward that he had issues shifting onto the smallest sprocket on his cassette. In any case, his ability to be in the right position for the final kick without much of a leadout and his impressive turn of speed could lead to more opportunities as the race goes on.
- Philipsen’s third stage win propelled him even further up the green jersey standings. He now has 215 points, putting him 88 points ahead of second-placed Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) in that classification. It will be a tall order for anyone to overhaul the Belgian in the battle for what would be Philipsen’s first-ever points classification triumph; he was second to Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) at last year’s Tour, albeit a very distant second.
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There was some consternation about Philipsen’s sprint maneuvers on the day.
Astana boss Alexander Vinokourov was among those making his displeasure known.
Philipsen’s win stood nonetheless, putting him into some pretty impressive company …
What’s next: Stage 8 preview
Saturday’s stage 8 seems likely to see another fast finish, albeit of a different flavor, with some lumpy roads to put fatigue in the legs late in the day and then an uphill drag to the line in the final kilometer. It’s not terribly steep at an average gradient of 3.1%, but it’s enough to put the purer sprinters on the back foot. Wout van Aert, Girmay, and Caleb Ewan could be in the mix, while Alpecin-Deceuninck will have to decide whether this is a day for the more-versatile-than-you-might-think Philipsen, or for Mathieu van der Poel.
Quote of the day
If you told me this one week ago, I would have thought you were crazy. So far this is a dream Tour for us.Jasper Philipsen after taking his third Tour sprint win so far this year
That the victory came ahead of Mark Cavendish, who is hunting a record-breaking 35th career Tour stage victory, was not lost on Philipsen, who counts himself among those hoping that Cavendish can make it happen at some point – even if the biggest obstacle for Cavendish to overcome right now seems to be Philipsen himself.
“He was really strong and I would love to see him win, I think everybody [would],” Philipsen said. “For sure he will keep on trying. It will be hard.”
- Relive the action from the Pyrenees with a gallery of spectacular photos from Kristof Ramon and the Grubers.
- While the yellow jersey hopefuls are battling it out at the front of the race in the mountains, the sprinters are just trying to hang on.
- Here’s to those who go up the road on a mission that we all know will fail.
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