Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) will miss the chance to win a record-breaking fourth Scheldeprijs with illness having restricted the Manxman’s recent training.
British champion Cavendish was set to lead the Belgian super team in a one-day Belgian race best suited to sprinters, but after suffering from gastroenteritis last week, the decision was made not to select him.
Having lacked the training necessary to be a major contender at the race, Cavendish admitted it was disappointing to miss out on one of his favourite races.
“I am sad to miss a race that is very close to my heart, my first win as a professional,” he said.
“But it wouldn’t be fair to the race and for my team if I couldn’t arrive and perform at my best.
“With a team built around me, I wouldn’t feel right in asking my teammates to sacrifice themselves if I’m not in condition to perform.”
OPQS will send a squad containing just one Brit to the 200.9km race on Wednesday (April 9).
Scot Andy Fenn will race in a team led by Belgian Classics king, Tom Boonen, himself a former two-time winner.
Alessandro Petacchi, winner in 2009, is also included along with Mark Renshaw, Gert Steegmans, Matteo Trentin, Stijn Vandenbergh and Martin Velits.
Sport director Wilfried Peeters said: “Unfortunately Mark won’t be at the start, so we will have to reconsider a bit our race strategy.
“However, in the team we have a few fast men that can be there in the final and go for the sprint. The race will be also an important preparation prior to Paris-Roubaix.”
Cavendish’s revised pre-Tour race programme has yet to be confirmed but team manager Patrick Lefevere said he could return to the Tour of Turkey.
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