Tour de France and Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish said his family are "extremely distressed" after a group of armed burglars assaulted him and threatened his wife in a raid while his children were in the house.

Four intruders entered Cavendish's home in the Ongar area of Essex in what police described as a "targeted incident" in the early hours of November 27, as he was recovering from significant injuries from a crash at a track event in Belgium.

Essex Police said the group assaulted Cavendish, 36, and threatened his wife Peta in the presence of their young children.

None of the family sustained serious injuries and the burglars left, stealing a Luis Vuitton suitcase and two high-value watches, the force said.

As police released images of people police want to speak to in connection with the raid, Cavendish said in a statement: "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."

Police were called at 2.35am on Saturday, 27 November. No arrests have been made.

Cavendish equalled Eddy Merckx' record of 34 Tour de France stage triumphs on his way to succeeding then Deceuninck-QuickStep team-mate Sam Bennett as Green Jersey winner.