Cavendish out of Gent race

Mark Cavendish has withdrawn from the one-day Gent-Wevelgem race due to a viral infection, his Omega Pharma-QuickStep team have announced.

The 28-year-old from the Isle of Man began feeling unwell on Wednesday, just a few days after placing fifth in the Milan-San Remo classic he won in 2009.

Cavendish said: "Already on Wednesday I didn't feel well, but I went out on my bike. I went out yesterday again, but after an hour I had muscle pain and couldn't keep going.

"I went home at about 15 kilometers per hour. I couldn't go any faster and I spent the rest of the day on my bed.

"Today my situation was a little bit better, but not enough to jump on my bike and train. "I am a little bit disappointed because I was really motivated for Gent-Wevelgem. It's a race I've never won. "But there is nothing to do now other than recover."

Belgian Iljo Keisse will replace Cavendish in the OPQS line-up on Sunday.