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- British professional road racing cyclist
Detectives are hunting a gang of violent armed robbers who broke into the home of British cycling star Mark Cavendish and attacked him and his family.
Police were called to his house in the Ongar area of Essex in the early hours of Saturday November 27 after four armed men got into the property.
Mr Cavendish, who had been recovering at home following a serious cycling crash, was assaulted by the gang who also assaulted his wife, the former glamour model, Peta Todd.
The couple’s children were also in the house at the time and witnessed the events.
The gang eventually made off with a Louis Vuitton suitcase and two luxury watches worth tens of thousands of pounds.
In a statement Mr Cavendish said: “As I’m sure you will understand, this incident has left our family extremely distressed – not just myself and Peta but our children as well, who feared for their lives and are now struggling with the after-effects.
“No one should have to experience the sort of violence and threats made against us, let alone this happening in a family home – a place where everyone should feel safe.
“The items taken are simply material goods and our priority at the moment is to make sure we all recover from the incident as a family, and we know this is likely to take some time.
“We would like to place on record our thanks to Essex Police for a really quick response and the professionalism and the focus they are clearly putting into the investigation.”
Detective Inspector Tony Atkin, who is the senior investigating officer on the case, said: “This was undoubtedly a targeted incident at the home of a celebrated British Olympian, who at the time was recovering from significant injuries resulting from a crash whilst competing, which was well publicised.
Our investigation is moving along at pace and we are following a number of lines of inquiry as we seek to catch those responsible.
“Mr Cavendish and his wife were assaulted and threatened in their own home, in the presence of their young children, who witnessed these events. Thankfully, they are recovering, but the traumatic effect will be long standing.
“Today, we are releasing images of the people captured on CCTV fleeing the scene and we would urge anyone who recognises them to get in contact with us immediately.
“We are also releasing images of the suitcase and two watches which were stolen during the incident.
“It is likely the people who stole these items are attempting to offload them for sizable sums of money and I would urge anyone who is being offered these items to please get in touch with us – they are stolen property.
“If you have been offered these items, please contact us immediately.”
“We know an incident such as this will naturally cause a lot of concern within the community.
“There will continue to be a visible policing presence in the area as our investigations progress in the coming days.”
Mr Cavendish, who was born on the Isle of Man is one of biggest names in British cycling, having won a record equalling 34 stages in the Tour de France.
He was awarded an MBE in the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours, for services to British Cycling and also won the 2011 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.
In November he was treated in intensive care after suffering two broken ribs and a collapsed lung following a track cycling crash in Belgium.