Mark Cavendish has decided to pull out of the remaining five stages of the Tour de France to focus on his final preparations for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Cavendish, 31, won stages one, three, six and 14 of this year's Tour in his best performances since 2011 but struggled in the three mountain stages. Following Tuesday's rest day, stage 17 begins today (Wednesday 20 July) in the Alps, the first of four more mountain days.

The Dimension Data rider announced on Tuesday evening he now feels fatigue poses a real risk to his chances of winning a first Olympic gold in Rio.

A statement read: "After an extremely enjoyable and successful couple of weeks at the Tour de France with Team Dimension Data, it is with great sadness that I took the decision today to leave the race. After the heat and intensity of the previous stages, we analysed my fatigue levels and decided I'm at a point that would have a detrimental effect on my other big goal for the year, the Olympic Games."

Mark Cavendish
Cavendish is feeling the effects of demanding Tour stagesGetty

Cavendish's first Olympic event is the two-day omnium, an event consisting of six races, which takes place on 14 and 15 August.

Despite his bright start to the Tour, Cavendish is no longer in contention for either the yellow jersey, held by defending champion Chris Froome, or the green jersey, held by Peter Sagan.