Mark Cavendish crashes out of Tour de France, breaks collarbone

Mark Cavendish will have to share the Tour de France record for most career stage wins at cycling's biggest race after he crashed and broke his collarbone during Saturday's eighth stage.

Cavendish, 38, hit the ground Saturday with 40 miles left while riding at the back of the peloton at about 28 mph. TV images showed the veteran rider lying on the ground and then holding his right shoulder in pain.

He went inside an ambulance to receive treatment and looked ashen-faced before his retirement was announced. Cavendish was taken to a hospital in Perigueux, France, a team representative said, and he is set to undergo surgery.

"Mark Cavendish broke his right collarbone. Moreover because of the fracture, an ostesynthesis screw in the acromioclavicular joint [shoulder] is loose," his Astana-Qazaqstan team said in a statement.

The screw has been in his shoulder since a crash in the 2017 Tour de France.

Cavendish's teammate Gianni Moscon said the veteran rider had to brake suddenly because of a crash in front of him.

"And someone changed line and he just hit the rear wheel of the guy in front of him and went down," Moscon said. "It was quite bad. I stayed with him to see how he was, but he wasn't able to go on with the race so we had to go back in the peloton."

Cavendish had equaled Eddy Merckx's record of 34 Tour stage wins during the 2021 edition, 13 years after his first success. He was not selected for last year's race.

This year was his last chance to become the outright record holder after the former world champion announced in May during the Giro d'Italia that he will retire from cycling at the end of the season. Cavendish ended the Giro in style, winning the final stage in the historic center of Rome to post his 17th stage win at the Italian Grand Tour.

The British rider, known as "The Manx Missile," finished second in Friday's stage when Jasper Philipsen denied the rider a 35th stage win.

Merckx amassed his wins in the 1960s and '70s, an era during which his domination was such that he earned the nickname of "The Cannibal." Unlike Merckx, who did it a record five times, Cavendish never won the Tour while specializing in sprints.

Since his first Tour in 2007, Cavendish completed 206 stages, winning 16.5% of them, according to statistics provided by race organizers.

Cavendish became the fifth rider to abandon this year's race after Enric Mas, Richard Carapaz, Jacopo Guarnieri and Luis Leon Sanchez, who all crashed out. That became six toward the end of Saturday's stage when Belgian rider Steff Cras was caught in yet another pileup and retired.

Cavendish was not selected for last year's edition of the Tour by his former Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team and joined Astana-Qazaqstan in January to extend his storied career by one season, hoping that he would add at least one more stage win to his tally.

He also won the Tour de France best sprinter's green jersey twice. He has won stages at all three Grand Tour races -- the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Spanish Vuelta -- and became a world champion in 2011.

Cavendish's withdrawal comes on the day Philipsen was beaten for the first time in a sprint this year as the Belgian cyclist took second place behind stage winner Mads Pedersen. Belgian Wout van Aert finished third.

"It's so sad for a legend to finish the Tour like this," Pedersen said of Cavendish. "For me it was a pleasure to be able to ride with Mark Cavendish. I always had a good relationship with him in the peloton. Hopefully I can do some of the last races he does."

Defending champion Jonas Vingegaard retained the overall leader's yellow jersey with a 25-second advantage over Tadej Pogacar with Australian Jai Hindley in third place, 1:34 off the pace.

Briton Simon Yates crashed about 3.5 miles from the finish line and lost 47 seconds, slipping to sixth overall from fourth with his twin brother Adam now in fifth.

"It's really, really, a shame. Everybody wanted to see him go for one more win," Pogacar said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.