Cycling: Mark Cavendish pulls out of Tour of Spain

Mark Cavendish has pulled out of the Vuelta a Espana. The Manx rider withdrew during today's fourth stage of the event.

Participants have been subjected to fierce heat in the last few days with suggestions the temperature had adversely affected the sprinter when he endured a tough start before falling further behind the main peloton.

And during today's 170km Baza to Sierra Nevada leg, it emerged he had pulled out. Cavendish follows HTC-Highroad team-mate Matt Goss in withdrawing after he exited in stage one.

Of wider concern for Cavendish will be his preparations for the World Championships road race in Copenhagen on September 25. The Tour de France green jersey winner will now seemingly need special dispensation to compete in warm-up races before then, due to rules concerning the withdrawal from ongoing events.

The Vuelta does not reach a conclusion until September 11 - the day on which the Tour of Britain begins.