Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) sprinted to victory on a busy stage 8 of the Tour de France, his Lidl-Trek teammates taking over control of the race in the run into Limoges. The uphill sprint was perfect for the Dane who took the win ahead of green jersey-wearer Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).
It was a day of two halves that ended as expected, but without veteran sprinter Mark Cavendish (Astana-Qazaqstan) who crashed out of what is said to be his final Tour, and with a slight rejig in the general classification with Simon Yates (Jayco-AlUla) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) also caught up in a late crash.
How it happened:
- It was a hard fight for the day’s escape with breakaway potential tempting a host of teams, but after 20 km, the tall figure of Tim Declercq (Soudal Quick-Step) – usually called on to end a breakaway from the bunch – was joined by Anthony Turgis (TotalEnergies) and Anthony Delaplace (Arkéa Samsic) in the move of the day, essentially guaranteeing that the peloton would fight over stage honours.
- With the breakaway still holding a gap of around five minutes, the intermediate sprint caused more drama than expected. Philipsen edged out Jordi Meeus to take the lion’s share of the points, but the action came beyond the line as the sprint group decided to push on. While Alpecin-Deceuninck was well-represented in the move, Wout van Aert had volunteered not to contest the sprint, and it fell to Jumbo-Visma to chase down the unique selection of counter-attackers.
- Disaster struck the Tour with about 60 km to go as speed fluctuation caused a bunching up and a crash towards the back of the peloton. A handful of riders were brought to a halt, but worst affected was Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan) who was seen ominously clutching his right shoulder, a clear sign of a broken collarbone. Soon after, the news came through that the history-making sprinter from the Isle of Man had abandoned his final Tour de France.
- There was a flurry of excitement – of the positive variety – when Kasper Asgreen attacked out of the peloton just inside 40 km to go, with the three-man breakaway now around 1:40 off the front. The Dane was unable to stretch the elastic beyond 30 seconds on the hilly terrain, and though the move afforded his teammate up front an armchair ride for 15 km, any hopes of a surprise victory soon evaporated.
- Jumbo-Visma did a great deal of work all day and the pace really lifted in the run-in to the finish, with several favourites for the stage dropping out the back of the bunch. Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Dstny) tried to launch a move in the last 10 km, but the sprint teams would not let anything go clear.
- Lidl-Trek executed a perfect final five kilometres with plenty of fresh bodies on the front, including climber-cum-time trialist Mattias Skjelmose, which delivered Pedersen to the perfect sprint to the finish line.
- Cav wasn’t the only rider to crash on the hard and fast stage 8. Simon Yates and Mikel Landa’s top-10 goals took a knock, both of them losing 47 seconds in a high-speed crash at 6 km to go that saw Steff Cras (TotalEnergies) become the second abandon of the day. Yates remains firmly in the top 10 but slips two spots to sixth, while Landa is on shakier ground as he drops from 11th to 14th, 6:36 off Vingegaard.
- Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek)
- Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck)
- Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)
- Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco-AlUla)
- Nils Eekhoff (DSM-firmenich)
- Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) 29:57:12
- Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) @ :25
- Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) @ 1:34
- Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos Grenadiers) @ 3:30
- Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) @ 3:40
- Jumbo-Visma nearly landed themselves in hot water a couple of times during stage 8. The first came after the intermediate sprint when, having not fought for points, the Dutch team found themselves chasing a strong group of sprinters and their lead-out riders, as well as the day’s break. No one was surprised that they’d work for the interests of stage favourite Van Aert, but other teams might have taken that very strong signal as good reason to do no work while the boys in black and yellow burned themselves out before the finale. The second came on the run-in when Jonas Vingegaard was momentarily caught out of position, while Tadej Pogačar was – obviously – perfectly placed in the front split. Jumbo-Visma riders still stuck around the front, but word got through and the race leader was soon back to the front of the race.
- Soudal Quick-Step tried to have some fun on a day that didn’t suit any of their riders perfectly, especially with Fabio Jakobsen still smarting after his stage 4 crash. With Julian Alaphilippe unsuccessful in early efforts to get in the breakaway and Tim Declercq making the move instead – of the doomed variety – the Classics team turned their thoughts to more novel tactics. Asgreen’s attack in the last 40 km presented a number of possible scenarios (we think): one, should Asgreen close the one-minute-forty-second gap to the front, Declercq would then drive hard, giving the Danish Classics specialist a chance at taking his first road win since the 2021 Tour of Flanders; two, with Asgreen charging into the gap, Declercq had freedom to do nothing, saving his legs for one last push and – just maybe – a fairytale maiden pro win…; a third possibility is that it gave a weary Soudal Quick-Step free rein to ride the wheels in the bunch before a fight for the finish line, but with Alaphilippe unlikely to match the likes of Jasper Philipsen in the bunch sprint, uphill notwithstanding, this seems a less likely end goal for Asgreen’s jaunt. And in the end, it came to nothing at all and Soudal Quick-Step’s best result was 25th (Alaphilippe). That said, it’s a good sign for Asgreen who is due a comeback and it looks to be landing at just the right time.
What’s next: Stage 9 preview
A rest day beckons on Monday, but first the Tour pays a visit to the mighty Puy de Dôme, bringing the GC riders to the fore once more to end the first nine days of the race. It’s not an overly violent race to the summit finish, with just one third- and two fourth-category climbs along the 182.4-kilometre route towards Clermont-Ferrand. But from there it’s skyward for 13.3 km – average 7.7% – for the third hors-category climb of the Tour. The fight for the breakaway will surely be hotly contested, not least for the KOM points available along the route, but the GC contenders may well have their day. Perhaps it’s a chance for Vingegaard to pull the momentum back into his corner after Pogačar bit back on Thursday.
Best of social media
In the heady days – nay, hours – of this morning, before Cav’s premature exit from the Tour, his teammate David de la Cruz enjoyed some quality time with Titan the Cavapoo (I think…).
A number of riders, including a still-happy Cavendish, took their turns shooting hoops this morning, but none were as cool as Pogačar who didn’t even unclip from both pedals.
There’ll be no number 35, but let’s not forget Cav’s incredible career.
Based on the below, Escape Collective‘s Joe Lindsey did some of his own number-crunching, finding that from 2007-2023, Cav contested 60 sprint finishes at the Tour and won 34, for a 56% win rate, racking up nine top-three finishes along the way – so a 70& podium rate. Over such an extended period, that’s pretty darned impressive.
And finally, a good day for Mads Pedersen.
What did you think of this story?