By Sophie Smith
German time trial world champion Tony Martin will not start the 10th stage of the Tour de France in an effort to recuperate ahead of his London 2012 campaign.
Martin fractured his scaphoid in a stage one crash last week but pushed on to compete in the first time trial stage of the Tour in the rainbow bands.
The 27-year-old finished yesterday's 41.5km race against the clock from Arc-Et-Senans to Besancon in 12th place and two minutes and 16 seconds off the pace of stage winner Bradley Wiggins (Sky).
Martin was in the hot seat for a time but was hindered by injury and, as in the prologue, a puncture.
The Tour stage winner will return home this afternoon after making a hard-luck Tour team debut with Omega Pharma-Quick-Step, which he transferred to following the demise of HTC-Highroad last season.
"It's difficult for me to step out of the Tour and leave my teammates here to keep on fighting," Martin said. "But it's the right thing to do now, and I know that even the guys will understand. I will go home and I will try to recover as much as I can.
"I don't want things to get even worse going into the mountains. I cannot imagine sitting in the back of the peloton suffering every day a little bit more as I did during this week. I really tried, I put a lot of energy together with the team to arrive until today, but now it's time to think about my complete recovery.
"I have still three weeks before the Olympics. I know that it won't be easy, but I will do all my best to be in good shape for the Olympics. I wish all the best to my teammates and I thank the whole team for the great and professional help they gave me in this difficult week."
Martin's team sport management and medical staff agreed with the decision.
"Tony's impressive performance in the last days, going through all the pain and still fighting to be able to compete in the individual TT, shows what kind of character he has," team doctor Helge Riepenhof said. "But from the medical point of view, it is now time to give the scaphoid fracture a chance to heal.
"We also have to avoid further issues to his body because of being limited in his movement while wearing a brace. This is the only possible decision to be able to perform at the London Olympics without damaging structures such as the lower back or knees."
The peloton will enjoy a respite today on the first rest day of the Tour before tomorrow's 10th stage - a 194.5km run from Macon to Bellegarde-Sur-Valserine, which includes one category two, one category three and a hors categorie climb.
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