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Mark Cavendish abandons Tour de France 2023 after crash

The Manx Missile ends his Tour career with a record 34 stage wins, level with Eddy Merckx

Mark Cavendish has been forced to abandon his final Tour de France after crashing on stage eight today.

There was no fairytale ending for the Manx Missile, who looks set to end his illustrious career with 34 stage wins at Le Tour, level with Belgian cycling great Eddy Merckx.

The British sprinter, regarded as one of the greatest of all time, came agonisingly close to that seemingly elusive 35th win, which will unfortunately now remain impossible if he retires as planned, in yesterday's sprint finish at Bourdeaux.

He launched his sprint from way behind in the leading bunch, in his classic manner of finding gaps that don't exist (more like, gaps only Cavendish sees), and caught everyone by surprise, only to be pipped at the line by Alpecin–Deceuninck's green jersey wearer Jasper Philipsen, who claimed his third victory of this Tour.

> Mark Cavendish’s top 10 greatest Tour de France stage wins

Today's crash took place at Auros, just 60 kilometres from the finish line at Limoges in southwest-central France. A few riders had touched wheels in the middle of the peloton but managed to stay upright.

However, as ripples of that incident reached the back, it seemed to catch Cavendish out, who made contact with Bahrain Victorious' Pello Bilbao and went down as a result of the concertina effect.

Mark Cavendish abandons Tour de France 2023 (Eurosport/GCN+)

Mark Cavendish abandons Tour de France 2023 (Eurosport/GCN+)

By the time the cameras picked it up, Cavendish was already on the ground holding his shoulder and arm, with his elbow bruised as well.

He was ushered into the ambulance, his face in his hands hiding the probable and expected abject dejection, as his dreams of ending the Tour with the most stage wins came to a crushing blow.

> "If I don’t win one, I’ve won 34, I’m alright": Cavendish talks down all-time Tour de France record

At the Giro d'Italia this May, Cavendish had announced that this will be his final season after 17 years in the pro peloton, making this his final Tour de France.

The 38-year-old went out of the Italian Grand Tour in style, winning the final sprint in Rome after an impromptu lead out by his former teammate Geraint Thomas, providing British fans with echoes of yellow jersey Bradley Wiggins' own lead out for Cavendish on the Champs-Élysées at the 2012 Tour de France. Unfortunately, there will be no such fantastic ending in Paris this time and a shot at Cavendish getting that 35th stage win.

Before the Tour started, Cavendish had talked down his chase of the record. Speaking to Eurosport, he said that it was "irrelevant".

He said: "I just want to win as much as I can win. And if I can never win again at the Tour de France…

"There are two people in the world [himself and Merckx] that are more qualified than anybody else to tell you how hard it is to win a Tour de France stage. That’s why if I don’t win one, I’ve won 34, I’m alright. But if I can win 10 more I will be buzzing because I know how hard it is to win one!"

It seems the two greats are destined to share that pedestal. It'll surely be some time before anyone even comes close.

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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12 comments

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ErnieC | 7 months ago
1 like

The conspiracy theorists are alive and well on road.cc. 

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Fignon's ghost replied to ErnieC | 7 months ago
0 likes

T'was a lighthearted joke.

WHY SO SERIOUS?

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mark1a replied to ktache | 7 months ago
2 likes

I'd be surprised if he took it, it's not just spending July away fom home for another TdF, it's the preparation. He said when he announced his retirement he was looking forward to being with his family. Still, I for one would not be disappointed if he had another season in him.

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Rendel Harris replied to ktache | 7 months ago
2 likes

My initial reaction was oh don't Mark, it could be embarrassing, my second reaction is he would have won this week without the mechanical and he's twice been the fastest rider of the last 500 metres, why the hell not? Even if he can't win another stage, few people deserve that retiring rider's privilege of leading the peleton into the first lap of the Champs more than he.

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Fignon's ghost replied to ktache | 7 months ago
1 like

If you consider the Belgian conspiracy to keep him out of the 22 tour. The 24 tour should be his last. I reckon there's a good chance he'll consider this offer.

Perhaps G will be available for the slingshot! Fairytale ending that.

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Fignon's ghost | 7 months ago
1 like

Absolutely gutted for Cav. I've loved watching him in action all these years. Naturally fast.
Heart on sleeve honesty.
I heard the problem yesterday was a twisted chain. Is that right?
Either way. He should take the positive away from that experience. Had there been no mechanical. He would've creamed the Belgian.

If he still has that speed performance available to him. Why not one more at 38? Astana has never had such coverage from the UK press. Ever.

He just took the crown jewel in Rome FFS!

What's he going to do. Write a book!

Cmon Cav. Come back on and carry on playing...

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ErnieC replied to Fignon's ghost | 7 months ago
2 likes
Fignon's ghost wrote:

Absolutely gutted for Cav. I've loved watching him in action all these years. Naturally fast. Heart on sleeve honesty. I heard the problem yesterday was a twisted chain. Is that right? Either way. He should take the positive away from that experience. Had there been no mechanical. He would've creamed the Belgian. If he still has that speed performance available to him. Why not one more at 38? Astana has never has such coverage from the UK press. Ever. He just took the crown jewel in Rome FFS! What's he going to do. Write a book! Cmon Cav. Come back on and carry on playing...

 Creamed the Belgian - you made a funny. 

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Owd Big 'Ead | 7 months ago
2 likes

Gutted for Cav!
However, I think it is quite fitting that two of the all time greats, Cavendish and Merckx will forever be tied at the hip for the number of stage wins in the history of Le Tour.

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Simon E replied to Owd Big 'Ead | 7 months ago
1 like
Owd Big 'Ead wrote:

Gutted for Cav!

Same here. indecision indecision indecision

I had ITV playing on the laptop while doing something else, switched back and Ned was talking about him having crashed out. Turned it off once I was sure what had happened. So disappointed for him in his last ever Tour when he was looking so strong!

Good analysis by Lanterne Rouge (who consistently creates the best summaries/highlights I've seen, miles better than GCN/Eurosport):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSPCeK2QKYk

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brooksby | 7 months ago
1 like

Not the final Tour I imagine he'd been aiming for... 

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ubercurmudgeon | 7 months ago
6 likes

Bad luck for Cavendish to have crashed out. Bad luck to have had a mechanical yesterday, which possibly denied him a record-breaking win. But better to have gone out fighting than making up the numbers. I hope Sagan does something in one of the upcoming stages, because his final Tour could be even sadder if he does nothing but squeeze into the top 20 in the sprints (16th today, on what would've been called a "Sagan stage" just a few years ago.)

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