Cavendish thanks 'race that shaped career & heart' after cruel Tour exit

Twitter (@TeamDiData)

Mark Cavendish thanked the "race that's shaped my career and heart" after he made an early exit from this year's Tour de France.

Cavendish had entered this year's race with the hope of gaining ground on Eddy Merckx's record of 34 stage wins, the Manxman having amassed 30 in his superb career.

But he had not been in contention in any of the sprint stages before Wednesday's 11th stage, which finished with a category one climb up La Rosiere, proved his undoing.

He came home over an hour after stage winner and yellow jersey holder Geraint Thomas, missing the time cut and suffering elimination from the race as a result.

Posting on Twitter on Thursday, Cavendish wrote: "Sometimes everything you give just isn't enough. But the finish line will always be there and you'll pass it eventually.

"Thanks to @TeamDiData. Thanks to @LeTour, the race that's shaped my career and heart. Most importantly, thanks to the incredible fans over the last couple of weeks."

"We always knew these stages were going to be hard. Seeing them in October, we talked about it and said we would just have to try," Cavendish said after the stage.

"I tried and I finished but was nowhere near fast enough.

"Obviously I was disappointed but that's bike racing and it wasn't the first time and it won't be the last, and I'll just try to come back stronger next year."