Renshaw (Dimension Data) announced his pending retirement in July and the eight-stage race that began in Glasgow, Scotland on Saturday is likely to be his final tour.
“For the moment I haven’t said it will be my last race but at this stage, it should be the last planned. I’ll check in the with the team later in the race,” he told Cycling Central prior to Stage 1.
Former world champion Cavendish battles a field featuring younger riders like Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) and Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) but his selection alongside Renshaw and Austrian veteran Bernhard Eisel, who all transferred to Dimension Data as a package deal in 2016, generated excitement amongst long-time fans that have followed the trio since halcyon Highroad days.
“As you know, there has been long history with us,” Renshaw said.
“I’m pretty sure it will be the last time that we all go to the dinner table together and reminisce about the day’s racing. It’ll be exciting. As far as those guys and what their plans are, I’m not really sure that they’ve got that sorted or not. I’m happy I know my future and can plan ahead.”
Cavendish hasn’t been competitive the last couple of seasons and is yet to confirm his future however, he has been linked to Bahrain-Merida for 2020.
He and Renshaw rose to prominence with Highroad between 2009-2011, superbly dominating sprint stages at the Tour de France where they finished first and second, respectively, on the Champs Elysees in 2009 – a feat that hasn’t been repeated since.
Rather than reminisce, Renshaw on Saturday was more focused on the immediate task in Britain of racing toward the horizon and against rivals he has increasingly found taxing to keep pace with.
“Mentally, I’m tired. I’m starting to get tired and I don’t want to keep riding just to get paid. I want to be there and be competitive. It’s not fun to be kind of on the back foot in racing when for so many years I’ve been on the front of it,” he said.
“I’ve been 16 years pro now and the racing has progressed so much and is so fast. Young kids these days are winning everything. I figured it was a good time to step away from racing. We [Renshaw and his wife, Kristina] now have three kids and I want to move into the next stage of life, enjoy some time at home and not be out on the road flogging myself every day.”
Renshaw marked a delayed start to his swansong season after he was hit by a car and fractured his pelvis out training around his Bathurst, NSW hometown last December.
The 36-year-old returned to racing in late March and started the Giro d’Italia soon after in support of Giacomo Nizzolo, the Italian sprinter selected over Cavendish to compete at the Tour de France this year.
“I’m healthy, fit and able to do something in the races but definitely never got into flying form,” said Renshaw.
“Even now I think there’s a little bit of residue from the injury, still building the left side back up. The body seems to shut down when injuries like that happen and it’s mainly getting the glute and left hamstring, the whole left side, working again after that month of lying in bed.
“I’ve come from Monaco where we still have the fan going 24-hours-a-day. This morning I walked out of the hotel and could see my breath in the air, which I haven’t seen for a long time.
“There will be no time to float along in this race. It’s one of the hardest of the season, with really hard parcours and then six riders a team. There is still going to be a fair chunk of suffering between here and Manchester, so no time to really feel too nostalgic.
“It will be a solid race with Steve Cummings and Danilo Wyss for harder stages. Then for the sprints, obviously try and get Cav around the pointy end. We’ll give it one last shot. It would be nice to go out on top at some point.”