Mark Cavendish sat blank-eyed in a van on a country road in the Dordogne. The dream of becoming the sole record stage winner of the Tour de France was probably shattered due to carelessness about 60 kilometers from the finish of the eighth stage. The 38-year-old fell with the Spaniard Pello Bilbao and apparently sustained a shoulder injury, it is probably a broken collarbone.

The stage in Limoges was won by former world champion Mads Pedersen, who relegated the three-time winner of the day, Jasper Philipsen, to second place. “It’s so sad that such a legend has to end the tour like this,” said Pedersen. The German Phil Bauhaus went away empty-handed on his 29th birthday, but had words of comfort towards Cavendish: “I’m really sorry. I know Mark, I drove with him in the team for a year, a super nice guy, I like him. You don’t wish that on anyone. It’s bitter for him.”

As expected, there were no changes at the top of the overall ranking. Defending champion Jonas Vingegaard will lead through the Massif Central, 25 seconds ahead of Tadej Pogacar. The German Bora team is currently on the podium with captain Jai Hindley in third place. The Australian is 1:34 behind Vingegaard.

At Cavendish, the doctor on the tour immediately put on a bandage, and the creaking tour radio reported: “Cavendish abandon” – Cavendish gives up. Instead of continuing to hope for the 35th stage victory, the Manx missile went to the X-ray. “It breaks my heart,” wrote Marcel Kittel on Twitter. The Thuringian is the German record holder with 14 daily successes and is a TV expert on the tour.

Cavendish fell on a straight country road in the Dordogne on Saturday afternoon. His teammate Gianni Moscon drove right next to him. “Cav hit another rider’s rear wheel with his front wheel and that was it. It quickly became clear that he had to retire. We were just sad for the rest of the stage,” said the Italian.

Cavendish announced in May that he would retire at the end of the year. The ex-world champion wanted to win his 35th stage on his 14th and last tour. He would have surpassed the legend Eddy Merckx, with whom he is currently tied in first place with 34 daily successes. On Friday in Bordeaux, Cavendish was close to victory in front of his family, but a problem with the gearshift meant he had to let Belgium’s Jasper Philipsen pass him.

For his last tour – Cavendish ends his career in the fall – the Brit had brought his former driver Mark Renshaw into the team as a sprint consultant. “I’ll be honest, I cried. We put so much work into it,” said Renshaw. “It hurts more than yesterday and I thought it wasn’t possible. His form is there, he had the legs.”

For his big goal, Cavendish had changed teams again before the season. Since he did not get a new contract with QuickStep and had overwhelming competition in Fabio Jakobsen, he signed with Astana. His last tour was all about the record. “I will regret not being able to enjoy the moment and the full touring experience. But I have a job to do,” said the Isle of Man professional.

The sprinter’s tour history was characterized by great successes, but also by falls and setbacks. In 2014 he fell on the first stage of the Grand Départ in Yorkshire, three years later Peter Sagan took him out of the race with a dangerous maneuver in a bunch sprint. In 2018 Cavendish fell out of the time limit in the mountains, in the following two years he missed the tour and in 2020 he was close to the end of his career.

However, QuickStep boss Patrick Lefevere offered him a minimum-wage contract. Cavendish hit it and was surprisingly nominated for the 2021 tour due to Irish Sam Bennett’s poor form. There the Briton amazed as in the best of times, winning four stages and the green jersey. At the end of May he won the last stage of the Giro and increased his winnings to 162 successes. It is questionable whether more will be added.

Before the first rest day, there is another spectacle. On Sunday, the legendary Puy de Dôme will be climbed again for the first time in 35 years, when Rolf Gölz took second place behind the Dane Johnny Weitz. His compatriot Vingegaard will try to distance Pogacar. The last 4.5 kilometers in particular offer the opportunity to do so, with an average incline of twelve percent.

1. Mads Pedersen (Denmark) – Lidl Trek 4:12:26 hrs; 2. Jasper Philipsen (Belgium) – Alpecin-Deceuninck 0 sec; 3. Wout van Aert (Belgium) – Jumbo Visma; 4. Dylan Groenewegen (Netherlands) – Team Jayco AlUla; 5. Nils Eekhoff (Netherlands) – Team DSM – Firmenich; 6. Bryan Coquard (France) – Cofidis; 7. Jasper De Buyst (Belgium) – Lotto Dstny; 8. Rasmus Fossum Tiller (Norway) – Uno-X Pro Cycling Team; 9. Corbin Strong (New Zealand) – Israel Premier Tech; 10. Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia) – UAE Team Emirates; … 37. Emanuel Buchmann (Lochau/Austria) – Bora-hansgrohe; 70. Georg Zimmermann (Neusäß) – Intermarché-Circus-Wanty 1:05 min.; 77. Nikias Arndt (Cologne) – Bahrain Victorious 1:15; 87. Simon Geschke (Freiburg im Breisgau) – Cofidis 1:58; 91. Nils Politt (Huerth) – Bora-hansgrohe 2:13; 120. John Degenkolb (Oberursel) – Team DSM – Firmenich 6:22; 141. Phil Bauhaus (Bocholt) – Bahrain Victorious 6:38.

1. Jonas Vingegaard Rasmussen (Denmark) – Jumbo-Visma 34:09:38 hrs; 2. Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia) – UAE Team Emirates 25s; 3. Jai Hindley (Australia) – Bora-hansgrohe 1:34 mins; 4. Carlos Rodriguez Cano (Spain) – Ineos Grenadiers 3:30; 5. Adam Yates (Great Britain) – UAE Team Emirates 3:40; 6. Simon Yates (Great Britain) – Team Jayco AlUla 4:01; 7. David Gaudu (France) – Groupama-FDJ 4:03; 8. Romain Bardet (France) – Team DSM – Firmenich 4:43; 9. Thomas Pidcock (Great Britain) – Ineos Grenadiers; 10. Sepp Kuss (USA) – Jumbo-Visma 5:28; … 13. Emanuel Buchmann (Lochau/Austria) – Bora-hansgrohe 6:32; 68. Georg Zimmermann (Neusäß) – Intermarché-Circus-Wanty 58:03; 73. Simon Geschke (Freiburg im Breisgau) – Cofidis 1:00:43 hours; 102. Nils Politt (Huerth) – Bora-hansgrohe 1:20:36; 104. Nikias Arndt (Cologne) – Bahrain Victorious 1:21:35; 150. John Degenkolb (Oberursel) – Team DSM – Firmenich 1:43:19; 165. Phil Bauhaus (Bocholt) – Bahrain Victorious 1:51:43.