Mark Renshaw Interview: Moving to Rabobank, Aussie steps out of Cavendish’s shadow
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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mark Renshaw Interview: Moving to Rabobank, Aussie steps out of Cavendish’s shadow

by Xylon van Eyck at 6:20 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
 
Sprinter expects victories to be hard to come by next season

Mark RenshawMark Renshaw has been labelled as the best lead out man in cycling due to his relationship with team-mate Mark Cavendish over the past few seasons. The Australian delivered ‘Cav’ to countless victories in the Tour de France - most notably on the Champs Elysees the last three years, a memory he says he will treasure forever.

After the announcement of HTC-Highroad’s closure at the end of the season, it was widely expected that Renshaw would move with Cavendish to a new team. However, the winner of this year’s Tour of Qatar had other ideas. He was approached by Rabobank to step out of the leadout shadow and offered the chance to be a leader on the Dutch team, particularly at next year’s Tour de France.

Renshaw could not refuse the offer.

While Cavendish has not yet made public his destination for next season, it is expected he will be going to Team Sky. If this is true, it means HTC-Highroad sprinters Renshaw, Cavendish and Matt Goss [who has confirmed a move to GreenEdge] will all be on different teams next year, sprinting against each other. VeloNation’s Xylon van Eyck spoke to Renshaw ahead of one of his final races for HTC-Highroad about the prospect of going up against the fastest sprinter in the world.

VeloNation: Where were you and how did you react to the news that HTC Highroad was closing?

Mark Renshaw: I was just with my wife running some errands and doing a bit of shopping. Then I started getting calls from some journalists. It was during the late afternoon so I think it had already been leaked to some of them; I tried not to think too much of it but by 5’o clock or 6’o clock I got a call from my manager with the news that the team was closing. At this stage I was deep in negotiations for renewing my contract further so it came as quite a shock.

VN: So if HTC-Highroad had continued, you would have stayed with the team?

MR: Yeah, at that stage I was happy to stay with the team…I was looking forward to it. I knew the structure so I was quite happy to stay there.

VN: What was the big draw card for you to go to Rabobank?

MR: Obviously I had a few teams interested in me so it was quite an interesting time. Basically [Rabobank] made me an offer to go as a sprinter and to be a leader in the team and hopefully go to the Tour de France with the objective of winning a stage in the sprints. So that was a big draw card.

VN: So you have spoken to Rabobank about next year’s Tour de France and what role you will play?

Mark RenshawMR: The first thing we spoke about obviously was that I go there as a sprinter. I didn’t want to come on board as a leadout man because obviously I would have stayed with Mark Cavendish if that was the case. We had quite a good combination. The deciding factor was that I get to do my own sprints in the big races and try and be competitive.

VN: Being Australian, did GreenEdge approach you at all and did you consider an offer from them?

MR: We had some talks, and in the end I think they already had the riders they wanted. To be honest with you, I don’t know if there was a place there for me. We had some discussions but, yeah, I think they already had their main riders…there wasn’t too much to talk about, really.

VN: What did winning in Qatar mean to you?

MR: I think it was an important step in my career, given it was a race with that kind of calibre. It didn’t come easy so it gave me a bit of confidence. I wouldn’t say it was a big factor in the next decision I took with Rabobank, but it was definitely a good idea of what potential I could have if I raced for my team.

VN: You, Mark Cavendish and Matt Goss will all be on different teams next year…what do you make of that?

MR: It’s going to be quite interesting. I think next year is going to be great for the fans because there’s going to be a leader in every team, you know, a top sprinter. It’s going to be quite hard to get a victory but I see the sprints being more open. I know there’s a couple of other teams that have signed riders and other sprinters to combine with the leadouts. I think it will be the usual suspects. You can guarantee that [Andre] Greipel and Cavendish and the other large sprinters will be there and they’ll have more support, so it’s going to be a hard year for sure.

VN: What do you think of Michael Matthews and are you looking forward to working with him?

MR: He is quite a talent you know, he’s an amazing talent. I think it will be good to come on board, I’ve heard they want me to give him some good feedback and some experience so yeah I think I’ll be able to help him a lot. He’s still got a lot to learn but the raw talent he has is quite unbelievable. He’s a classy rider and I think he’ll go a long way in cycling.

VN: Do you have a most memorable experience of working with Cav?

MR: Obviously the finish in Paris. The 1-2 on the Champs Elysees was probably the most notable, you know to finish the Tour, a successful Tour then to close with a 1-2 is quite unbelievable.

The Tour of Qatar is probably my best individual success, then as a team I think the best events we’ve done were the two team time trials in the Giro that we won. To win two team time trial events with total different teams was a great feeling and great team work to be part of.

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