Mark Cavendish says his career could be at an end following Sunday’s one-day Gent-Wevelgem classics race.
The 35-year-old has struggled for form in recent seasons, suffering from the Epstein-Barr virus.
He spent much of Sunday’s race in Belgium in the breakaway, showing his best form for some time, but finished 74th, more than six minutes down on winner Mads Pedersen.
“That was perhaps the last race of my career,” a tearful Cavendish said.
The Isle of Man rider, who is due to compete at the Scheldeprijs one-day race in Belgium and the Netherlands on 14 October, is considered one of the greatest riders in road cycling, having won 30 stages at the Tour de France.
The Bahrain-McLaren rider also won the 2011 World Road Race Championships, 15 stages of the Giro d’Italia and the Milan-San Remo ‘monument’ one-day race in 2009.
Cavendish is contracted until the end of 2020, but is in talks with his team to extend.
Denmark’s former world champion Pedersen, of Trek-Segafredo, won the race after outsprinting an elite group.
Jolien D’Hoore beat fellow Belgian Lotte Kopecky to win the women’s race, with Britain’s Lizzie Deignan finishing eighth.