July 2, 2010

Interview: Mark Renshaw "The Leadout Man"

This is a joint effort between myself and Christopher Jones, owner of Bicycles Network Australia, final write up by Christopher Jones.

Mark Renshaw is Cav's main man in Team HTC-Columbia, responsible for leading him out to the finishing and putting him into position to take the victory. Mark Cavendish knows that when he takes a sprint finish win, he can celebrate a team victory. The Mark Renshaw/Mark Cavendish combination is set to continue in this years Tour de France.

Just one day before the 2010 Tour de France begins in Rotterdam, Christopher Jones and Rowena Scott from Bicycles Network Australia (BNA) touched base with Mark Renshaw to find out about his expectations this year.


BNA: You missed the start of the season due to illness and didn't start as planned, how are you feeling right now with the Tour de France and UCI World Cup in Melbourne coming up.

Renshaw: This year didn't really start to plan with the EBV (Epstein-Barr) virus, so it's kind of hard to get going but eventually I started my season over here in April with a few races, some one day races and then gradually worked up but at the moment I believe that I am at peak form. I think I have prepared myself to be 100% here (TDF) and I would go as far to say I am in as good form, or if not better form than last year. I am really happy about where I am at the moment.

The tour does start tomorrow so obviously there is enormous pressure on us to emulate last season results so it's going to be hard but I think we should be ok.


BNA: Your preparations have been going well, we have seen you in a the 2010 tours making a big mark this year already, particularly the Giro d'Italia. Are you happy with your preparations in the leadup to the Tour de France.

Renshaw: This season was good. Since being sick I have had a good race plan laid out until the tour so am gradually building up from race to race. The races I have done bofore like the Tour fo California and the Tour of Romandie was a gradual build up of harder races so it has worked out really well and I was happy how I was going in all of those races considering that is was really a pushed, squeezed together race program to pick me up.


BNA: You’re consider to be the fastest and the best lead out man in the world, will you be in a similar role for the Tour in 2010?

Renshaw: Yes, pretty much exactly the same role, like I just said before, if I can emulate last seasons job I will be really happy with that. So obviously that means dropping Cav off as close to the line as possible with nobody in front of him. If I can get him with 200 metres to go and he's got no riders in front of him I am pretty much sure that he will win 100% of the time. That will be my role again this tour.


BNA: Who do you think will be your biggest competitors when bring Mark up to the finish line?

Renshaw: This year is looking more difficult than last year maybe with a few teams that have sent more specialised lead out men for their sprinters like Garmin. The have Robbie Hunter and Julian Dean. Thor Hushovd has brought in a couple more guys in, Jeremy Hunt and Brett Lancaster obviously. Theres also Petacchi at Lampre, he's brought in Lorenzetto and a few other riders so I think that between us and three or four teams there's going to be some really tight battles for the finish.


BNA: Last year’s stage 21 on the Champs d'Elysee, the cameraman got a perfect shot of you leading Cavendish to the finish line with an amazing finish, what does this achievement feel like?

Renshaw: I still get goosebumps when I see the footage. It still sends a bit of a shiver down my spine and I daresay that this will stay with me forever. Although it wasn't a victory for myself, it was a good victory for the team to dominate with one, two on the last stage of the Tour de France. It was amazing. It really capped off our perfect view.


BNA: The 2010 Tour de France is starting tomorrow. How are you feeling right now? Are you exicted, are you nervous? What is going through your mind?

Renshaw: Yes, I am excited because I am just happy to get it underway. For the last six months we have been training for this race. To get to the doorstep of it, I am just ready to get into it now and start racing but there are no nerves yet though I daresay that in the next few days there will be some nerves on the bus until we find our feet and the race settles down a little bit.


BNA: Your team just announced a partnership with Google in which your speed, heart rate, power output and SRM data will be delivered in real-time to various Google applications (like My Tracks) - what does this mean for you? Does it change anything?

Renshaw: It is a new partnership that the team and Bob Stapleton has set up with Google and HTC where you guys are going to be able to see our real data. I think its good for cycling, it's definately a new level, a new insight into cycling. I think it will probably shock a few people and the data will be amazing for people at home. It is definately a new insight and I think it is a great initiative to work with Google and if we have caught the eye of such a big company, hopefully cycling is getting a bigger and better image.

I can see that the companies now that are coming on board, like Skype, these are big companies. Hopefully for the future of cycling it is a really good advantage.


BNA: What about your competitors, they can now pull up this real time data in the team car. Do you see this as an issue or advantage for your competitors?

Renshaw: Maybe in the start it is going to be a bit of an advantage for them. I see in the future most teams going to this type of data. It wouldn't surprise me in the future if I saw half the peloton using this type of data. In the end of the day if the team manager thinks it would be detrimental to our results then we wouldn't show it but now I think it will be interesting and hopefully we can still keep winning as many stages (laughs).


BNA: Australia has a very strong representation in the tour this year. Looking back at the recent performance of the Australian riders in the Giro d'Italia, they took out all major classifications except the Maglia Rossa. Can we expect the same kind of performance and showing of Australian riders in this years Tour de France?

Renshaw: Yes, definately. I think Australian riders will be really strong here overall. We've got Cadel Evans again, there's a few sprinters and then there will be a few guys that will be working. I think that we will see a really stong presence of Australians. I think every year they step up and this year wont be different.

Let the fun begin

BNA: What one thing would you change in the Tour de France if you could change anything?

Renshaw: I would probably cut out a few mountain days (laughs). That would probably be the first thing I would do. I hate the mountains so if I could pull a couple of those stages out, I would be more than happy to do that.


BNA: Who’s your roommate for the Tour?

Renshaw: I room with Mark Cavendish.


BNA: Are there any bad habits that we should know about or be concerned about?

Renshaw: I think when you live in each others pockets for four weeks, anything becomes a bad habit and annoying so by the end of four weeks if he looks at me sideways… (laughs) give me a funny look it upsets me (laughs) but I am pretty much the same with him. Generally you don't room with a guy that you have any troubles with.


BNA: You have a pretty good relationship with Mark. When you are racing up to the finish line do you have a kind of like ESP, you have communication that you both know exactly what is going on, you can judge one another because you have been working together so long. Are you in automatic when you are racing to the finish and pulling him up to the front?

Renshaw: Yes, you can say that. It is pretty much an automatic feeling, I know where I have to be and Cav has confidence that I put him where he needs to be. We all know each others jobs. Generally it works, there's obviously times when it doesn't. You can say that we have have an automatic feeling for where we should be and shouldn't be.


Thank you for talking the time to chat with us, we wish you and your team all the best for the Tour de France this year and look forward to seeing you race.


You can follow Marks Tweets during the Tour on Twitter

Thanks to Alex of AEJ for organising the Interview.
AEJ also run an online shop for sport wear and gear: www.all1sport.com

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