ALBERTVILLE, France (AFP) — Olympic champion Fabian Cancellara pulled out of the Tour de France before the 11th stage Thursday to be with his expectant wife, his RadioShack-Nissan team announced.
Cancellara wore the yellow jersey for a week after winning the opening prologue on June 30, but with his wife expecting to give birth in the coming days the Swiss decided to end his campaign early.
“The decision to go back home is harder than you might expect,” said Cancellara in a team statement.
“I am not only a bike rider,” added the Swiss, a former four-time world champion and reigning Olympic champion in the time trial.
“I am also a husband and father with another baby on the way. It is my personal wish to be present when my wife Stefanie gives birth to our second child.
“That ‘trophy’ is more important than another Tour stage win or an Olympic medal. I already need to thank my wife for her patience with me during the last month in her pregnancy that has been difficult at times.
“The least I can do is to assist her in these difficult days.”
Leaving the Tour early may also help Cancellara focus on the upcoming defense of his Olympic title. The time trial at the London Games will be held August 1.