Cavendish exits Tour de France

Mark Cavendish has left the Tour de France in order to begin his preparations for the Olympic Games.

The 31-year-old Briton has been in sublime form in this year's edition of the Tour de France, claiming four stages for Dimension Data.

Cavendish initially kept everyone in suspense by insisting that he would ride on to Paris on Sunday "as long as the legs felt good".

The legs obviously do not feel good as on Tuesday evening the news was confirmed that he would be withdrawing from the Tour.

Quitting the race before the Alps was always a likely scenario for Cavendish once he had completed the stages that he could realistically compete in.

It is believed that British Cycling had an informal agreement with Dimension Data that the sprinter would leave before the end of the Tour in order to spend more time preparing on the track with the rest of Great Britain's endurance squad.

Cavendish is targeting the six-discipline omnium in Rio and may also ride in a round of the team pursuit alongside Sir Bradley Wiggins.

Cavendish will now spend a few days at home before heading to the Great Britain cycling holding camp in Newport.