Family has taken precedence over a UCI Road World Championships that Mark Renshaw has prepared for in Australia following the premature birth of his second son.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
12 Oct 2016 - 10:05 AM  UPDATED 12 Oct 2016 - 11:25 AM

The 33-year-old has simulated the intensity of one-day races in training around his native Bathurst after son, Olly, arrived about five weeks early.

“He’s starting to put on a little bit of weight and get a bit bigger, which is good,” said Renshaw on his way to Doha, Qatar for the Championships this week.

The lead-out specialist heard he’d become a father for the second time while racing the September Tour of Britain, after which he suffered from gastro and was consequently scratched from the Eneco Tour.

The men's elite road race is live on SBS2 from 10:20pm AEDT Sunday 16 October and streaming online from 9:20pm AEDT.

“There was no point me staying in Europe so I flew back to Australia to be with the family then,” he said. “It’s an unbelievable experience, I’m pretty lucky to have a second, healthy baby again.

“I’ll probably be missing a little bit of intensity from the racing, you can’t simulate that too much in the end, but on paper I’ve done the training and the numbers.”

The lead-out specialist was a controversial omission from the last pure sprinter-friendly World Championships in Denmark.

Renshaw’s non-selection was hotly debated in the lead-up to and right after the finish of the race his trade team-mate Mark Cavendish won for Great Britain.

Then national team selector Matt White defended the exclusion he said was based on form, but it didn’t prevent aficionados from speculating on internal national team politics as well as Renshaw’s dynamic professional partnership with Cavendish, who he has piloted to much success.

Asked if he felt vindicated to be selected in a crack Australia line-up for Sunday’s elite men’s road race, which Brad McGee this time picked, Renshaw said the past was another country.

“I don’t want to look too much back at the past because it was different selectors and trainers for Australia. If I wasn’t going to get selected this year I was never going to go because the course is so well suited to me.

"If I wasn’t going to get selected this year I was never going to go because the course is so well suited to me.

“It will be good to see how it all functions on the inside.”

The patriotic Renshaw, who last represented Australia on the road at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland, says he will have no issue side-lining trade team alliances in the 257.5km race that Cavendish, who has reportedly suffered from an intestinal infection recently, has identified as a final season objective.

Renshaw predicts a technical and tactical world championships
Mark Renshaw has likened the course for the 2016 UCI Road World Championships in Doha to a criterium after racing over part of it at the Tour of Qatar on Tuesday.

“That shouldn’t be a problem when you’re racing in different colours,” he said.

The 2011 Tour of Qatar champion is proven in the hot and blustery conditions likely to affect the coveted race before the peloton hits a tight and technical finish circuit he saw first-hand in February.

Michael Matthews as well as burgeoning sprinter Caleb Ewan headline the Australia team and will face stiff competition from powerhouse nations like Belgium as well as Germany that has many cooks in Andre Greipel, Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb.

“The most difficult factor in the road race will be the heat, and then depending on what the wind is doing that will open it up to nationalities like Belgium and Holland to have an outside chance to split the race up early. But it will still come down to the bigger nationalities, who want to sprint,” Renshaw said.

“I think it’s a race where in 5km we could lose five favourites with punctures or crashes because that’s how it works in Qatar. I think we’ll be making up on tactics on the run as the race unfolds. With that kind of race, anybody can be in the hot seat in the final but it will be about positioning and making sure you look after yourself, avoid those crashes and punctures.

Personally I don’t know the tactics because we [the Australia national team] haven’t sat down yet, but I think the first thing will be getting to the end of the race and working out who is left for the sprint.”