AS IT HAPPENED: Tour de France stage 7: Mark Cavendish gets another record breaking chance

After two thrillers in the Pyrenees its another day for the sprinters as the race heads to Bordeaux

Well, we have a race on our hands. In case you've not been paying attention, the last two days in the Pyrenees were a real slug-fest between the GC heavyweights (who actually don't weigh that much).

Today, however, none of that matters. The stage today should be a sprinters affair and the big question is can anyone beat Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and he all conquering lead-out, central to which is Mathieu van der Poel.


Today's route

Sep Vanmarcke retires immediately

With 57 appearances as a stage finish and 33 as a stage start town, Bordeaux is one of the most visited cities on the race. 

Mark Cavendish winning stage 18 of the 2010 Tour de France from Salies-de-Béarn to Bordeaux, ahead of Julian Dean and Alessandro Petacchi.

The KoM of today's single categorised climb, the Côte de Beguey, is Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma), who will be racing up it again today.

169.9km to go: And the riders set out from Mont-de-Marsan on the départ fictif. The crowds are out, the weather looks amazing – the scene is set.

Today's stage heads roughly north from Mont-de-Marsan, skirting the Bassin Aquitain on its way up to Bordeaux, all in the south-west of the country.

Aurélien Paret-Peintre (AG2R-Citroën) perfectly demonstrates the warmth of the day – around 30deg C – with an ice pack on the back of his neck.

169.9km to go: And the stage is go! Riders attacking immediately.

168km to go: Three riders out front, looking rather reluctant. No one behind looking at all keen to join them.

165km to go: Arkéa's Simon Gugliemi has been left on his own out front now as his fellow breakaways head back to the bunch. But Frenchman Gugliemi has put his head down. Looks fairly committed. This could be a long time trial for him.

162km to go: One of the breakaways who had thrown in the towel – Mathieu Burgaudeau of TotalEnergies – explains that, apparently, his DS wasn't happy with the composition of the break and sent him back to the bunch.

159km to go: Mathieu Van Der Poel and Tadej Pogačar having a friendly chat just off the back of the bunch. Planning world cycling domination, perhaps?

157km to go: Matthias Skjelmose and Alex Kirsch of Lidl-Trek showing off their national champions' jerseys (Denmark and Luxembourg respectively) at the front of the bunch. Now where's Quinn Simmons?

Bora-Hansgrohe directeur Enrico Gasparotto explains the team strategy with Jai Hindley, having already won – and lost – the yellow jersey.

152km to go: Simon Gugliemi's gap is growing inexorably – it's now out to 5.30.

So who is Gugliemi? He's 26, turned pro with Groupama-FDJ in 2020 after riding for a year with its development squad.

150km to go: 6.23 now for Gugliemi. It's going out by a second per second right now.

David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ's GC hope) is really looking forward to the Puy de Dôme on Sunday, he says. 

145 to go: Looks like Lotto-Dstny has decided Gugliemi has enough rope at 7.06 and has come to the front to start controlling the gap.

135km to go: The gap is back down to 4.53 now and continues to fall. Lotto-Dstny's riding is clearly working at the front of the bunch.

The Jumbo-Visma riders all know their individual sweat losses, explains team head of nutrition Martijn Redegeld. On today's hot outing they're going to be particularly focused on taking on fluids, plus cooling with ice and ice lollies, apparently. Calippo, anyone?*

132km to go: Lotto-Dstny continues to ride on the front, with Gugliemi's gap dropping to 4.12 now.

111km to go: The peloton has lowered the gap to Gugliemi to 3.35 now. Yellow jersey Jonas Vingegaard looks relaxed in the bunch, chatting to Jumbo-Visma team-mate Nathan Hooydonck.

99km to go: UAE Team Emirates and Astana Qazaqstan taking on feeling musettes as they go through km70. Lotto-Dstny still plugging away at the front, with the gap to Gugliemi now below three minutes at 2.55.

The three kilometre rule has been extended to 3.6km today, to take account of all the technical aspects as the riders approach the finish. There are a multitude of bends, some of them very tight, and organisers don't want a repeat of the crash strewn finish at Nogaro on stage four.

Spectators on stage seven of the 2023 Tour de France from Mont-de-Marsan to Bordeaux

Pure Tour de France, as spectators seated at a picnic table enjoy a grandstand view of the riders as they push on towards Bordeaux

(Image credit: Thomas Samson / Getty)

83km to go: The day's single intermediate sprint is on the horizon. Gugliemi goes through first of course (he still has 1.58), but things are livening up back in the bunch.

It's an arrow straight road through the trees of south-west France. The bunch can likely see Gugliemi even though he must be around a kilometre ahead.

Mads Pedersen goes, then Jasper Philipsen and now Biniam Girmay... Girmay claims the second place in the sprint behind Gugliemi.

The full result:

It sees Philipsen extend his lead in the points competition with 165 pts over Bryan Coquard (Cofidis, 117 pts), with Wout Van Aert third (95 pts)

All that sprinting action in the bunch cut Gugliemi's gap in half to something eminently bridgeable. It's now 58sec, with Nans Peters (AG2R-Citroën) and Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies) jumping out of the bunch in an attempt to bridge it.

71km to go: Peters, Latour and Gugliemi are all together now, but the peloton is chasing hard with the gap down to just 33sec.

They won't want to make the catch yet though – if they did, it would only prompt more attacks, causing a serious headache for the very sprinters' teams who are currently controlling that gap.

58km to go: The bunch has happily allowed the gap to the break to reach 1.15. That said, there are riders from Soudal-Quick Step (for Fabio Jakobsen), Lotto-Dstny (for Caleb Ewan) and Jayco-AlUla (for Dylan Groenewegen) patrolling the front of the peloton, ready to bring the break back just as soon as they decided they need to.

Philipsen has won twice now, with Van Der Poel's help – once in Bayonne on stage three and once in Nogaro on stage four. Is he the favourite for today? The short answer is yes.

56km to go: Flat tyre for Mark Cavendish, who is being paced back to the bunch by two team-mates. And, speak of the devil, Mathieu Van Der Poel also had a bike change. 

44km to go: Wout Van Aert and Mathieu Van Der Poel having what looks like the friendliest of chats back in the bunch. That said, the time to the break has now come down to 45sec, so no one's hanging about.

27km to go: The kilometres are rattling past, with the French trio still out front and the gap back up to 1.14. Another 10km or so and it will be coming down rapidly, I'd predict.

24km to go: In fact, Gugliemi is done for the day. He's back in the peloton. All that time out front clearly caught up with him. Peters and Latour still out there though, the gap being 1.07.

15km to go: Things getting a lot more urban now as the race approaches Bordeaux along the Garonne river. The gap is tumbling too – it's 37sec to the pair out front now. The bunch will want them caught before things get technical in the final few kilometres.

10km to go: The pair of escapees are clearly in no mood to capitulate, their body language betraying the obvious effort they are putting in to staying away. Behind, the peloton remains at 31sec, but 10km is a long way to go in this situation.

9km to go: Gap down to 19sec now. The roundabouts have started.

8km to go: Jumbo-Visma right up the front, with Jonas Vingegaard third wheel in that particular line. Right on the yellow jersey's wheel is, of course, Tadej Pogačar. They're leaving nothing to chance.

7km to go: Another roundabout, it strings the bunch right out.

6km to go: No sprint for Van Aert today, he's been dropped.

4km to go: Latour within about five seconds now. He's still giving it his all.

3km to go: Latour caught as the bunch takes a hard right-hander. They're inside that 3.6km safety zone now.

2.5km to go: Alpecin takes the front on the left side with Philipsen third wheel. 

1.2km to go: Groenewegen and Ewan coming up to the front into position, Girmay's there too. Where's Cavendish?

Massive leadout from MVDP!

Cavendish sprang out the pack, victory looking almost certain, but then Philipsen sweeps past to claim a third win in the final metres.

Cavendish just faded in the last 20 metres, slowing down as Philipsen was accelerating. Second place for Cavendish, third for Biniam Girmay.

Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar over the line safely too.

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