• Mark Renshaw (L) at the Tour of Qatar with Mark Cavendish (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Mark Renshaw has deflected onus to rival sprint teams as he prepares to pilot Mark Cavendish at the 103rd edition of the Tour de France.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
2 Jul 2016 - 11:58 AM  UPDATED 2 Jul 2016 - 11:59 AM

The duo was once the foremost of sprint stages but on the eve of a flat Grand Depart Renshaw has outlined a more modest approach to the race.

The 33-year-old has estimated six riders have a genuine shot at line honours and the first yellow jersey of the Tour, a higher number than previous editions, from Saturday.

“It won’t be like in (former team) QuickStep where the race was for them to decide what happens, it’s more about following and trying to be in the right position at the right moment,” Renshaw told Cycling Central.

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The composition of the Dimension Data squad, which Renshaw transferred to with Cavendish this season, is also a demarcation from the tacitly sprint orientated teams the Australian is accustomed to. In-form Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen and Briton Steve Cummings are among notable selections that should be afforded their own opportunities, over fully committing to Cavendish’s cause. 

“We’ve got a couple of dedicated guys, specific guys for the lead-out and then we’ve got a couple of climbers and a couple of guys who will take opportunities through the race, so it’s going to be a big change,” he said. “We’ve got four or five riders than can really play a part in the final and the other guys will have their job later on in other aspects of the race.”

Renshaw will commence his career eighth Tour de France on the back of the comparatively low-key Tour of Slovenia, which Cavendish abandoned in stage two citing illness. The schedule was a demarcation from typical preparation races in the Tour de Suisse and Criterium du Dauphine.

Asked if it was the best groundwork for the Tour Renshaw said, “we’ll see”.

“It might not have been,” he added. “Everyone looks in pretty good shape. The Tour de Suisse was pretty hard and so was the Dauphine so it may be the little bit of energy we saved there will make a bit of difference here.

“It was quite difficult still, just not seven days long so a little bit shorter and just as intense.”

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Cavendish has balanced track and road commitments this season and will represent Team GB in the ominium at the Rio Olympics, which immediately proceeds the Tour. Renshaw said the Manxman’s residual track legs should not negatively impact on performances in sprint stages. Whether the latter finishes the Tour in lieu of his Olympic goals remains to be seen.

“He’s probably lower on endurance than what he’s been in the past but he’s been professional now for 12 years, or something, so I think he’s done enough kilometres over the time to be alright for the endurance.  His sprint will be there – the part that’s most important,” Renshaw said.

Sprinters will feature especially in the first week of the Tour that Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) and Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) will surely also animate.  

“We just come in all guns a ’blazing,” Renshaw said. “If we get a victory that will already make the Tour a success. I’m coming in as fresh as possible and hopefully in the best shape. I don’t expect to get better over three weeks, I’ll get worse! 

“I’ve done just as much racing this season so I should be where I’ve been the last few years. All the numbers, they all look good but you can’t really feel how it’s going to be until you start racing.”

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