• Mark Renshaw (R) with Mark Cavendish (L) at the 2017 Tour of Britain. (Getty)Source: Getty
Mark Renshaw has outlaid the demands of being chief lieutenant to Mark Cavendish as he readies for the 2017 season that will be based around the Tour de France.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
23 Dec 2016 - 8:53 AM 

Cavendish managed road commitments and Olympic track goals this year but is reportedly focusing again mainly on stage victories at the Tour where he marked a staggering return to prominence in July.

“Every year is about the Tour. We just have to focus on being the best we can at the Tour de France, and then every other race being in good form where we have the chance to win,” Renshaw said.

“It’s always about winning many races with Cavendish, not just about winning a couple.”

Renshaw himself has spent time in the velodrome during pre-season in effort to be more competitive from the Santos Tour Down Under next month, where he hopes to see the initial dividends of the added work. The 34-year-old, with Caleb Ewan, competed at the Australian Madison titles, which Cameron Meyer and Sam Welsford won, as part of that last week.

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“The technique wasn’t too shabby and came back quite fast but during the race all we could do was follow basically,” he said. “Meyer and those guys, they’re on top of their game … we didn’t have a lot to do other than just try to pick up some scraps for the points and stay on the same lap.”

The 2016 Tour remains a bittersweet memory for Renshaw, whose Dimension Data team collectively won five stages through Cavendish and Steve Cummings. Renshaw assisted Cavendish to three of the Manxman’s four before having to abandon through illness in stage nine, which is still a sore point.

“The big thing was not finishing the Tour de France. It’s upsetting to not finish,” said Renshaw, adding he otherwise hit all season targets.

“I think the team was pretty happy generally; I was happy with the season because of how successful we were in the Tour de France.”

At the outset of this year’s Tour, Cavendish, despite his plaudits, was merely mentioned amid hype surrounding German sprinters Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) and Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quick-Step). The pair had dictated terms in recent editions but couldn’t level this year, with Cavendish claiming the opening stage and going from there.

“I think you see with all riders it’s always a wave up and down,” Renshaw said of his rivals. “Kittel changed teams also in the off-season, so there’s a lot happening for those guys.

“I think we were lucky that everything clicked on the first day and the ball started rolling. We were lucky it happened like that.”

Renshaw, after Down Under, is due to compete at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and then the Tour of Dubai with a team that is now more cohesive.

“They’ve made some staff changes and some things have changed within the team. [They’ve] got a lot more organised. Things are going really well. Hopefully next year we’ll be going better than this year,” he said.