Mark Cavendish has decided not to start Sunday’s 15th stage of the Tour de France from Embrun to Prato Nevoso.

The Team Columbia sprinter has won four stages of the race but has opted not to battle through the first Alpine stage, choosing instead to have a brief rest before completing his preparations for the Madison at the Beijing Olympic Games on August 19.

Cavendish has been lined-up to appear in some of the post-Tour criteriums and is flying to Beijing on August 9.

After his fourth stage win in Nimes on Friday, he admitted he was feeling tired but that the idea of contesting the green jersey or winning the final stage on the Champs-Elysees had started to appeal.

But after losing contact on the final climb of Saturday’s stage to Digne-les-Bains and seeing Oscar Freire stretch his lead in the points competition even further, Cavendish has decided to call it a day.

He’s completed two weeks of the Tour de France, winning four stages, on the back of finishing the three-week Giro d’Italia in May. That’s five weeks of grand tour stage racing and six wins for a second-year professional.

The next goal is the Madison and battling on in the Tour as tiredness sets in could have jeopardised his chances of winning gold with Bradley Wiggins.

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Comment: Why Cav is right to go home today



TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE REPORTS

Stage 13: Cavendish takes fourth win

Stage 12: Cavendish makes it three

Stage 11: Arvesen wins

Stage 10: Evans takes yellow jersey by one second

Stage nine: Ricco wins in the Pyrenees

Stage eight: Cavendish wins again in Toulouse

Stage seven: Sanchez takes action-packed stage

Stage six: Ricco storms to win

Stage five: Cavendish takes first Tour win

Stage four: Schumacher wins TT and takes race lead

Stage three: Dumoulin wins stage from break

Stage two: Hushovd wins chaotic sprint

Stage one: Valverde wins

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: NEWS

Ricco speaks on Italian television

Cavendish joins the all-time greats

Saunier Duval sack Ricco and Piepoli

Tour bosses say fight against doping continues

Ricco denies doping at the Tour

Saunier Duval pull out of Tour

Tour’s top ten changes

Ricco positive for EPO at Tour

Analysis: Tour de France rest day summary

Cavendish battles through Pyrenees

Evans suffers but takes yellow jersey [stage 10]

Analysis: Hautacam shakes up 2008 Tour

Ricco silences critics with solo attack in Pyrenees [stage nine]

Cavendish talks about his second stage win [stage eight]

Beltran heads home but doubts remain about other Tour riders

David Millar: the dope controls are working

Manuel Beltran tests positive for EPO at the Tour

Comment: How the Tour rediscovered its spirit

Doping back in Tour de France headlines

Millar: close but no cigar in Super-Besse [stage six]

Super-Besse shows form of main contenders [stage six]

Millar to go for yellow [stage six]

Team Columbia’s reaction to Cavendish’s win [stage five]

Cavendish talks about his Tour stage win

Tour comment: Why Evans should be happy [stage four]

Millar: Still aiming for Tour yellow jersey [stage 4]

Who is Romain Feillu?

Cavendish disappointed with stage two result

Millar too close to Tour yellow jersey

Stage 2 preview: A sprint finish for Cavendish?

Millar happy after gains precious seconds in Plumelec

Valverde delighted with opening Tour stage win

Comment: Is Valverde’s win a good thing for the Tour?

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: PHOTOS

Stage 12

Stage 11

Stage 11

Stage 10

Stage nine

Stage eight

Stage seven

Stage six

Stage five

Stage four

Stage three

Stage two

Stage one

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: BLOGS

Life at the Tour part three

Life at the Tour part two

Life at the Tour part one

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: GUIDE

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