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Mark Cavendish becomes a dad

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Ollie Williams | 08:35 UK time, Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Late on Tuesday evening, Mark Cavendish became a father.

The BBC Sports Personality of the Year, holder of the Tour de France green jersey, road cycling world champion and likely contender for Britain's first medal of the London Olympics now has another priority in this, the busiest of years: tiny Delilah Grace Cavendish.

Daddy Cav tweeted the big announcement, wasting no time in proclaiming it the "happiest day of my life". Mum, former glamour model Peta Todd, added she had "started that birth malarkey at 6am" but praised her other half as "incredible" throughout.

Keeping professional focus at this most personal of times is going to be quite the challenge for Cavendish. Most new fathers probably find that's a full-time occupation, without the British public expecting you to win an Olympic gold medal and Tour de France honours before your child has reached four months old. But Cavendish has known his priorities all along.

Mark Cavendish

Cavendish raced in the Milan-San Remo classic a fortnight before the birth of daughter Delilah. Photo: Getty Images

"It doesn't matter what I have achieved or could achieve in future on the bike," he told me recently. "I'm going to be a dad, and when April comes nothing is going to be quite as important as that.

"Everything is prepared, the nursery's done, she's got enough clothes for a few months.

"She's kicking. We know she's a person, and it just warms you. I want to hold her, cuddle her - something that's me, that I've made. It's a feeling that nothing else in life ever comes close to."

Delilah's name was kept a closely guarded secret, even from family members. As Cavendish explained, someone always knows an idiot (he chose a stronger word) with the same name that you picked, so why share it till you have to?

If the name was an easy enough dilemma to resolve, it's fair to say Cavendish has yet to turn his attention to all the longer-term consequences of parenthood. The nervous grin and widening of the eyes when we mentioned things like choosing schools, setting aside money for university fees and so on, told its own story.

"I don't want to think about it," he squirmed, scratching his neck awkwardly. "I'll just deal with her up to being a teenager. Once she turns teenage, it's a different matter."

But Mark, you're going to have to have 'the chat' about boys and all that...

"No, don't. Don't. We're not going to talk about this. I'll just deal with my little baby girl and that'll be it.

"She's like her mum, she's got long legs. It'll be like Russian dolls - a big one and a little one. I'm really happy."

Cavendish and Todd seem like they will make fun, lively and loving parents from their constant conversations and asides on Twitter. There you will find regular glimpses of daily life in the Cavendish household.

But professional road cycling will not allow expectant fathers to linger around the home, popping along to parenthood classes and leafing lazily through catalogues while waiting for the paint in the nursery to dry. Cavendish has been out earning a crust, touring the Middle East and Europe with Team Sky.

For much of the year, contact with heavily pregnant Peta has been via a laptop screen. The same will have to happen for vast chunks of the summer to come. And for her part Todd has become a cycling expert, propped up in front of live coverage on TV.

"She's good, isn't she," said Cavendish. "I've seen her commentating on races on Twitter, she knows her stuff now. I'm impressed of her and proud of her with that.

"We spend a lot of time on Facetime and Skype, and that's kind-of good, it keeps you in your room and relaxed. Rod Ellingworth [Cavendish's coach at Team Sky and his mentor for many years] has always said to me that my most important thing is a good home life.

"I haven't been chilled for the last couple of years - certainly before the last year - but now, finally, everything is settled and going good. I'd rather be at home but I've got a job to do and if I can sit with my family on a screen and kind-of interact, I'm as relaxed as I can be.

"But it's hard. It's incredible how, naturally, something in your mind changes. I think any dad can appreciate what I'm saying. Evolution changes you. Even now, every single decision I make is not about myself any more. Consciously and subconsciously, there's always the future of my family involved in it. Everything I do affects the future of my baby girl."

Dad could be an Olympic champion by the end of July, although that will be the last thing in his mind for a while to come. At least he'll have one more fan by the roadside - Locog need to make room on Box Hill.

"She already gets excited," said Cavendish of Delilah. "When I'm racing, she's kicking. She'll be there at this year's Tour, and at the Olympic Games. That'll be a nice way to start a life."


  • Comment number 1.

    congratulations and good luck!

  • Comment number 2.

    Cav's a DADDY! Wish his family well.

    Whatever a bloke says it changes your perspective on what IS really important in life.

    Me thinks Cav will compete all the harder and want to make them proud this summer!

  • Comment number 3.

    I managed to cycle a stage of the Tour de France last year when my son was 4 months old so I'm sure it wont be an issue for Cav, more likely to spur him on.

    Best wishes to my friends little daughter, Danielle, who is currently in icu following a complicated birth on Monday.

  • Comment number 4.

    Good luck Cavendish, as a family and all that. But for goodness sake, spare us the moralizing, and the sharing. There are millions of mums and dads right now welcoming their kids into the world, who fortuitously will be very privileged. Come on lets get a grip I can't stand all this sycophancy.
    He is a really good cyclist though!

  • Comment number 5.

    Congratulations Mark, Peta, and big brother Finbarr!

    Most of us new dads go to work to have a rest - it might be just a bit different in the Cavendish-Todd household!

  • Comment number 6.

    To be honest the novelty will wear off within a few weeks with the realisation that all babies are the same. All they do is cry, vomit and go to the toilet (usually just after you have changed them). I think it's much harder once the child is 2 years old or so because then it really becomes a personality and starts to understand that when daddy says goodbye it will be a long time before daddy is seen again.
    That look of pain is what makes you feel terrible and guilty as a father when you go on work trips for days or weeks. This is all to come for Mark and believe me it's million times harder leaving a toddler or young child than a baby. Whatever nonsense new parents say, and I have been there myself, new babies are basically all the same.

  • Comment number 7.

    Many congratulations Mark and Peta and welcome to the world Delilah Grace. The happiest day of my life was the birth of my first child only matched by the birth of my second, so I know what it is like. Changes your life forever.

    I guess Cav will be needing a baby trailer on your Le Tour bike.

  • Comment number 8.

    Congratualtions to Peta and Mark.

    But why, why, why, Delilah?

  • Comment number 9.

    I found that becoming a father was both far more demanding and far more rewarding than I had imagined. Good luck to Cav and all other new fathers.


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