Cavendish will not defend Scheldeprijs title

Mark Cavendish (Sky), a three-time Scheldeprijs winner and the defending champion, will not start the 2012 edition on Wednesday due to the imminent birth of his first child. Cavendish and girlfriend Peta Todd are expecting their daughter to be born on April 5, one day after Scheldeprijs takes place.

"I know every dad probably says this but I don't think there's going to be a baby more loved than this one," Cavendish told The Guardian. "Her room's ready. Her stuff's ready. Her mum's ready. I'm more than ready. She's due on 5 April and I've got three-and-a-half weeks at home so it works out perfect. It's already changed me. It's made me more motivated than ever."

The 2007 edition of Scheldeprijs was the first race Cavendish won as a professional. He repeated as champion in 2008 and won the Belgian semi-classic for a third time in 2011.

In lieu of Cavendish, Team Sky will rally around Chris Sutton for the expected field sprint finale. The Australian will be supported by teammates Bernhard Eisel, Juan Antonio Flecha, Mathew Hayman, Jeremy Hunt and Christian Knees.

Cavendish is expected to return to competition at the Tour de Romandie, April 24-29.

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