Mark Cavendish Interview: “No one in the World can do Mark Renshaw’s job”
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Mark Cavendish Interview: “No one in the World can do Mark Renshaw’s job”

by Ben Atkins at 12:52 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Tour de France, Olympics
World champion will miss his long time lead out man as he moves to Team Sky; will follow similar programme to 2009 on the build up to the Olympic Games

mark cavendish,mark renshawWith the folding of the HTC-Highroad team at the end of the season, World champion Mark Cavendish will be making the long-expected move to Team Sky. Since his new team has a close association with British Cycling, with team principle Dave Brailsford among those performing leading roles at both. With a number of riders that Cavendish grew up riding alongside in the WorldTour team, he will be joining some familiar faces.

The World champion’s move should be a good one for his ambitions of a second Tour de France green jersey followed by gold in the Olympic road race in London; it is tempered though, with the knowledge that he leaves behind a number of people that he has ridden and worked with for his entire professional career.

Possibly the biggest wrench for Cavendish is that he and long time lead out man Mark Renshaw will be going their separate ways. The duo has been working together since 2009, becoming the most devastating sprint team in the sport; with countless major victories together, including more than a dozen Tour de France stages – where they have even managed to cross the line in one-two formation on the Champs-Elysées in Paris on two occasions – and has developed an almost telepathic relationship.

With the Australian moving to Rabobank in 2012 – where he will be sprinting for himself, as well as working with Dutch sprinter Theo Bos – he will be the rider whose absence Cavendish will miss most of all.

“You’ve answered the question for me, haven’t you?” the World champion told VeloNation as we put it to him between races at the Revolution event at the Manchester Vélodrome on Saturday.

“There’s no one in the World that can do his job; he’s the best in the World at what he does.”

Team Sky though, is not short of sprinting talent, and so the World champion feels assured that one of the many candidates will be able to step into Renshaw’s shoes once the team gets together for its pre-season training camps.

“We have a few yeah,” he said, “so we’ll train and see what happens; see what looks okay, you know.”

In any normal season, former British champion Geraint Thomas would be the obvious man to step into the role; the Welshman has been one of the quickest lead out men of 2011, doing the job for Sky’s current sprinter Edvald Boasson Hagen, as well as Cavendish himself at the World championships. This would be complicated by the fact that Thomas will be missing both the Tour de France and the Olympic road race – which are Cavendish’s two big targets – as he concentrates on the defence of Great Britain’s team pursuit title on the track.

Meanwhile, instead of being led out by Renshaw, Cavendish will find himself racing against his former teammate; this will doubtless feel strange for the World champion, but will just be one of those things for a professional rider.

“I don’t think we’ll be sprinting against each other in the same races,” said Cavendish. “It’ll be different not riding with him, you know, but he’s still a really good friend. I’m really good friends with a lot of riders that I race against; it’ll be like that…”

One really good friend that Cavendish will still be riding alongside will be Bernhard Eisel, who follows the Manxman from HTC-Highroad to Team Sky. The popular Austrian has the role of looking after Cavendish for the majority of races, keeping the Manxman out of trouble until he is ready to sprint and getting him through the mountains. It’s a big boost for Cavendish that Eisel will be performing the same role in the black jersey of the British team.

mark cavendish,bernhard eisel“One of my best friends in the World: Bernie,” Cavendish smiled. “He’s my minder on the bike, minder off the bike. I’m super-happy; he’s great for team morale, and he’ll bring the team on no end.”

Cavendish’s 2011 season did not begin as well as it ended, as crashes in the Tour Down Under and the Tour of Qatar set his progress back. As well as a desire to stay upright this time, his rainbow season will be done rather differently in order to allow him to maintain his peak in July.

“I’m starting in Qatar,” he confirmed. “Then we’ll have a similar… thingy… to 2009… a similar thing to 2009.”

Bradley Wiggins, one of Cavendish’s new teammates at Sky, rode this year’s Vuelta a España to win [he finished third behind Geox-TMC’s Juan José Cobo and his own teammate Chris Froome – ed] because its close proximity to the World championships would tell him if it would be possible to try to win the Tour de France and the Olympic time trial next summer.

A silver medal in Copenhagen, Denmark, has convinced Wiggins that his summer targets are both hittable, but Cavendish doesn’t feel that this gives him any pointers for himself.

“Bradley’s a different rider to me,” said Cavendish. “I just have to do what’s best for me.”


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