Jasper Philipsen denied Mark Cavendish a record-breaking victory on the Tour de France to claim his third stage win in this year’s race on Friday, taking his fifth bunch sprint in succession since last year.
After 170km from Mont de Marsan, Philipsen was the fastest again in the final sprint, although Cavendish almost caught the Alpecin-Deceuninck rider by surprise by launching his effort early, 250 metres from the line along the Garonne river.
The Briton, chasing a record-breaking 35th Tour de France individual win, was eventually outpowered by Philipsen and had to settle for what might remain the most frustrating runner-up spot in his career.
Cavendish, back on the world’s greatest race after a one-year hiatus, shares the record of stage wins with Eddy Merckx, who took his 34 victories between 1969 and 1975.
“We can’t be proud enough of the team. Without them it would have been impossible to win a third stage already. I’m proud of them. We worked together and that led to success,” said Philipsen, who once again benefited from Mathieu van der Poel’s perfect lead-out.
“I was always on a good wheel and never had to do a big effort before I had to produce my sprint. If you had told me a week ago, I would have told you that you’re crazy. We will just continue to add others.”
Defending champion Jonas Vingegaard retained the overall leader’s yellow jersey, 25 seconds ahead of Tadej Pogacar with Jai Hindley in third place, 1:34 off the pace.
Saturday’s eighth stage is a 200.7-km hilly ride from Libourne to Limoges, which could favour Philipsen’s team mate Van der Poel, although the classics specialist has pledged allegiance to the best sprinter of the race this year.
— Tour de France™ (@LeTour) July 7, 2023