Quadruple stage winner Mark Cavendish has pulled out of the Tour de France prior to the 15th stage, the first of three days in the Alps Sunday, according to his Columbia team.
Cavendish has been one of the stars of the July 5-27 race so far, winning four bunch sprints to set a new British record for stage wins in a single edition. He was victorious on stages five, eight, 12 and 13.
But the 23-year-old from the Isle of Man admitted he was suffering fatigue following two tough weeks of racing.
"I've done enough here with four stages," said Cavendish. "I'm a bit tired now. I've rode one Grand Tour at the Giro. Here I rode hard through the Pyrenees and was able to get a couple more results. Maybe if the green jersey was still in contention I'd carry on, but I'm 60 points behind now. I think the green jersey is out of contention now so it's better to go home and try and recover. I'll take a week's rest in the Isle of Man, then I'll start to concentrate on the Olympics."
Cavendish missed out on disputing a bunch sprint for the first time in the race when he was dropped on the small climb 10km from the finish line of Saturday's 14th stage, won by sprint rival Oscar Freire.
He will now set his sights on the Olympic Games, where he will compete for Britain in track cycling's Madison - an event in which he is reigning world champion with Bradley Wiggins.
In other Tour news, Australian rider Mark Renshaw of the French Crédit Agricole team also pulled out of the Tour de France before the halfway point of the 15th stage.
© BikeRadar & AFP 2008