Mark Cavendish told he must leave Tour early to ride at Rio Olympics

Mark Cavendish has been told he will have to leave the Tour de France early if he wants to ride at the Olympics.

The 30-year-old has won 26 Tour stages and the 2011 road race world title but is yet to claim an Olympic medal.

Competing on the track will be the Manxman's best chance of winning one in Rio this summer, as the road race route is not suited for pure sprinters.

"Cav won't do three weeks of the Tour," British Cycling's technical director Shane Sutton said.

"If he wants to medal, he's aware that he wouldn't be going to Paris."

This summer's race begins on 2 July with a flat stage that Team Dimension Data rider Cavendish will be targeting for victory.

The race ends in the French capital on 24 July.

Cavendish won his first four Tour stages in 2008 before leaving early to prepare for the Olympics in Beijing, where he finished ninth in the madison and was the only member of Great Britain's squad not to win a medal.

He also competed in the Olympic road race on the opening day of London 2012 but finished 29th, 40 seconds behind winner Alexander Vinokourov.

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