Mark Cavendish is back in Belgium for the Scheldeprijs, hoping to win the race for a record breaking fourth time to celebrate his daughter's first birthday and give his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team a boost after Tom Boonen's crash at the Tour of Flanders.
Cavendish is currently tied with Piet Oellibrandt for the record of wins at the race, the Belgian won in 1960, 1962 and 1963. Cavendish won the mid-week race in 2007, 2008 and 2011.
He didn’t take part last year, becoming a father to Delilah on the day of the race. Marcel Kittel won the sprint ahead of Tyler Farrar and Theo Bos. All three will be back to take on Cavendish, as are Theo Bos (Blanco), Arnaud Demare (FDJ), Gerald Ciolek (Team MTN Qhubeka), Andrea Guardini (Astana), Oscar Gatto (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).
A record breaking fourth victory could see him awarded a special diamond trophy from the Diamond High Council, based nearby in Antwerp -the largest diamond trading centre in the world.
The Manxman has won six sprints so far this season plus overall victory at the Tour of Qatar and was part of the Omega Pharma-Quick Step squad that won the team time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico.
"Mark can beat the record of victories and the team will help him out try to do this," Omega Pharma-Quick Step directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters said in a press release from the team.
"We have an experienced team for these kind of races and a few fresh riders for the leadout of Mark. It will not be so easy with the competitors at the race, but Mark has shown he is in good condition and can win with many different sprint situations in the final."
The Omega Pharma-Quick Step team has been built to protect and deliver Cavendish for the expected sprint finish. Also in the Belgian team's line up are fellow Brit Andrew Fenn, Iljo Keisse, Nikolas Maes, Gert Steegmans, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Stijn Vandenbergh and Martin Velits.
Cyclingnews will have live coverage, a full report, photo galleries and interviews from Scheldeprijs.