Renshaw on Friday announced a contract extension with Dimension Data for the 2019 season in which he made no direct reference to his long-time Manx teammate.
In a team statement, the 35-year-old highlighted his desire to work with new signing Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) as well as Ryan Gibbons moving ahead.
“I [am] looking forward to helping him and our other leaders in the sprint finals next season in my favourite position of lead-out rider. I will be sharing all my years of experience on the road to bring the team our best results,” he said.
This sentiment matched what Renshaw told Cycling Central at the Tour of Britain last month where he was due to meet with general manager Doug Ryder to discuss his future.
When asked what he wanted to do in 2019, Renshaw said: “work with a good sprinter”. There was no mention of Cavendish.
At the peak of their powers, they were the most celebrated if not successful duo in cycling, finishing first and second on the Champs Elysees at the 2009 Tour de France.
Renshaw angered Cavendish when he split from the 33-year-old in 2012, transferring to Rabobank in an effort to be a sprinter in his own right, a bid that wasn’t supported properly.
The Australian reunited with Cavendish at an incarnation of Quick-Step in 2014 though not to the same resounding effect. That year the WorldTour peloton observed a legitimate changing of the guard and Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) confirmed his supremo status at the Tour de France.
Of course, Renshaw’s notable omission of his famous colleague, at least in Friday’s statement, may simply be down to the fact that Cavendish hasn’t confirmed his plans for 2019, so his peers aren’t going to give it away. Cavendish could very well be “our other leaders” referred to.
Ryder was keen to keep the Cavendish in May but reports later suggested their relationship had soured, and the 30-time Tour de France stage winner was linked by one industry insider to Bahrain-Merida.
He and Renshaw are at the tail-end of their careers and have each struggled from injury and illness in recent time. Cavendish has won just two races – one stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour and a stage of the Dubai Tour - in as many seasons.
In a career first at the Tour de France this year he conceded he wasn’t as fast as the competition. He started to field questions on how to beat others. He was no longer the benchmark.
The pair don’t necessarily need each other anymore as they look to eke out as much out of themselves and the purse before retirement. Is the bromance over – for good? Time will tell.