German sprint ace Kittel abandons Tour
Germany sprint specialist Marcel Kittel became the fourth rider to quit the Tour de France on Thursday.
The Argos-Shimano rider came into his maiden Tour with hopes of challenging British sprint king Mark Cavendish having beat the Isle of Man rider in previous races this season.
However the German's campaign failed to get off the ground due to a stomach virus he has suffered with since overnight on Sunday.
Kittel struggled to keep pace with the peloton on Monday's second stage, leaving Dutch teammate Tom Veelers to take over sprint duties for the team.
Kittel has struggled to recover sufficiently for the demands of the gruelling race and on Thursday's 196km fifth stage from Rouen to Saint Quentin got off his bike after 40km of racing.
The other riders to have abandoned the race prior to Thursday were Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank), Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) and Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Team Sky) – all due to injuries suffered in crashes.