RadioShack-Nissan rider Fabian Cancellara has quit the 2012 Tour de France ahead of today's eleventh stage in the Alps and is returning home immediately to support his wife in the final days of her pregnancy as they await the birth of their second child.
The 31-year-old Swiss won the prologue in Liege at the end of June and subsequently held the yellow jersey for seven days before Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) took it from him at La Planche des Belles Filles in stage seven. Cancellara will be back in action at the end of July at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Last time round, in the Beijing Olympics of 2008, Cancellara won gold in the time trial and bronze in the road race. That bronze was upgraded to silver following Davide Rebellin's doping ban.
"The decision to go back home is harder than you might expect," Cancellara said. "Up to now the team has had a very good Tour de France. We won a stage, had the yellow jersey for more than a week, we lead the teams classification and we have four riders in the top 20 of the GC. Most of all, we could show the cycling world that we are not just a group of nine strong individual riders, but a real team.
"The atmosphere within this group is amazing. All of this makes it hard to abandon here. On the other hand, all of my teammates and directors understand and agree with my decision.
"I am not only a bike rider, I am also a husband and father with another baby on the way. It is my personal wish to be present when my wife Stefanie gives birth to our second child. That 'trophy' is more important than another Tour stage win or an Olympic medal. I already need to thank my wife for her patience with me during the last month in her pregnancy that has been difficult at times. The least I can do is to assist her in these difficult days," he said.