Marcel Kittel won his biggest race of the season, the Scheldeprijs today in Schoten, Belgium. It was his biggest win since last year's Vuelta a España stage, but something, rather someone was missing - Sky's Mark Cavendish.
"When I heard he was not here I was little disappointed," the team Argos-Shimano rider said in a press conference near Antwerp. "I was looking forward to a sprint against him. He has a very good reason to stay at home."
Cavendish's girlfriend Peta Todd gave birth to the couple's first child, Delilah Grace, last night. He wrote on Twitter, "So proud of my girls! Happiest day of my life."
Cavendish took his first professional win in the one-day Scheldeprijs race in 2007. He returned the following year and pipped Tom Boonen at the line for his second win. Last year, he won for a third time and matched Piet Oellibrandt's record of three wins.
Kittel won two stages in the Tour of Oman when Cavendish finished eighth and 14th, but the duo have yet to sprint head-to-head.
"After my Tour of Oman stage wins, Cavendish was the first to congratulate me," Kittel explained to a group of 10 journalists. He wanted to duel with Cavendish in the Scheldeprijs and said, "This was the moment I was looking forward to!"
They will likely cross swords in the Tour de France, where Cavendish already has won 20 times. Kittel hopes to make his debut in his second professional year and says his intention is to win a stage.
"If we pull together as we did in the Vuelta last year," said Kittel, "a win is possible."
His team is waiting for a nod from race organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO). It wants one of the four wildcard invitations to race with the 18 WorldTour teams.
Race director Christian Prudhomme met with the team on Friday in Rotterdam when it announced its new sponsor Argos.
Kittel stays upright to win 2012 Scheldeprijs
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