Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) has quit the Tour de France, leaving the race on the second rest day. He has enjoyed a successful campaign at the Grand Tour with four stage victories and a stint in the yellow jersey.
There had been rumours that Cavendish would not go all the way to Paris as he looks to prepare for the Olympic Games in Rio next month. Cavendish will be riding the track at the Olympics for the first time since 2008, competing in the Omnium. Olympic Gold is one of the few things that the Manxman doesn’t have in his palmares.
Cavendish left the team’s rest day hotel in Berne on Tuesday afternoon, driven by directeur sportif Roger Hammond.
Thanks to Cavendish’s success and a stage win from Stephen Cummings, Dimension Data has dominated the early part of the Tour de France. Cavendish claimed three wins in the opening week and added a fourth in Villars-les-Dombes last Thursday.
"After an extremely enjoyable and successful couple of weeks at the Tour de France with Team Dimension Data, it is with great sadness that I took the decision today to leave the race," Cavendish said in a statement released by his team announcing the decision.
"After the heat and intensity of the previous stages, we analysed my fatigue levels and decided I’m at a point that would have a detrimental effect on my other big goal for the year, the Olympic Games. To leave a race and organisation that I hold so much respect for and a team that I have such a special bond with, has not been an easy decision at all. I want to say thank you to them, along with all the fans for their support and encouragement, today and over the past 16 stages. I wish Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka and all the other competitors luck in the final few days into Paris, a special place that I will definitely miss the emotions of this year."
Team principal Doug Ryder said Dimension Data fully supported Cavendish's Olympic ambitions.
"Mark raced an incredible Tour de France, winning 4 stages and extending his palmarès to 30 stage wins at the Grand Boucle," Ryder said in a statement released with today's announcement.
"He managed to put on his first ever yellow jersey and to carry the green jersey into the first rest day in Andorra was just exceptional," Ryder said. "He has been a great team leader over the past two weeks and a great ambassador for everyone involved in this team and for the greater cause we ride for. Mark is really sad to leave the Tour, we are committed to support him in his dream goal of receiving a medal for Britain at the Rio Olympic games."
The men's Omnium at the Olympics takes place August 14 and 15.