Up until now, whenever he’s been asked whether he was likely to abandon this year’s Tour de France, Mark Cavendish has said that he’s taking it one day at a time. On the second rest day, with four tough stages coming up before the final sprint stage in Paris, he finally decided to leave.
Cavendish will compete in the Omnium in Rio and concluded that the upcoming Alpine stages would compromise his preparations.
“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. 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.”
It was an undeniably successful Tour for Cavendish, who won stages one, three, six and 14 – with the first of those wins also earning him the right to wear the yellow jersey for the first time in his career.
The Manxman has now won 30 stages in the Tour de France, putting him behind only Eddy Merckx who won 34. What is missing from his palmares, however, is an Olympic medal.
Sources at British Cycling have previously told The Guardian that Cavendish withdrawing on the second rest day would be their preferred option. This gave him six clear-cut sprint opportunities, while still allowing him time to recover in time for Rio.