Blazin' Saddles

Renshaw: Why I’ve reunited with Cavendish

Blazin' Saddles

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Mark Renshaw (Imago)

British Eurosport will have access to some of cycling's biggest names as the season builds towards the Giro d'Italia which begins in Belfast. This will include several weekly features in the Daily Telegraph.

This week, Mark Renshaw talks about being reunited with old HTC-Highroad teammate Mark Cavendish, as Omega Pharma Quick-Step look to strengthen their sprinting credentials for the coming season.


This season the team wanted to invest more in the lead-out, it was Cav’s (Mark Cavendish) idea to bring me back in, it’s tried and tested and he wants someone he trusts and can rely on. Obviously it’s worked really well in the past so I was his number one choice.

We didn’t do any sprint training at all. In December we were just planning for the season ahead, and making sure we had all the equipment right. It’s difficult to do sprint drills as you can’t really replicate race conditions. There’s only so much you can plan, quite often you have to react in the moment, and you only really get that experience through competitive racing.

It’s definitely taken a few races to get back into the old rhythm that’s for sure. In the Tour of Dubai we didn’t have it quite right; we were missing each other at the finish, we didn’t quite have the positioning and formation right. In the Tour of Algarve we won the final stage, but it still took a few days to get organised, but now we’ve done a few more races it’s starting to come together, but in the start it was difficult.

I was happy to come back to the lead-out after doing my own thing for the past couple of years. I definitely prefer the role now, it’s far easier for me. I’m much better at leading out then trying to win races.

No regrets, it’s how my career panned out and I’m happy with that. I think I’m going to stay with this role now for the rest of my career, it’s what comes easier and it’s what I’m best at. I’m 31 years old, and it’s something I enjoy so it totally makes sense.

The biggest change from Belkin to Omega Pharma Quick-Step was I had to change pretty much the whole set-up of my bike. I had to use a new seat type I’d never ridden before so that was a big change. I had to make sure I got the correct height to ensure I had the right cleat position, which is obviously really important. With the handlebars I went 2cm smaller in width, and to add to that I changed from Shimano to SRAM gears, which is a totally different way of shifting. I’d been on Shimano for 11 years, so it was like learning to ride a bike again. The frame I’m riding now is called the Venge which is more aerodynamic and specially designed for sprinters.

This is all down to the team sponsors so every rider in the team is obliged to ride with this equipment that’s just how it is. Once you sign the contract, you don’t have an option.

Obviously those are the most important parts of the bike, and I needed time to adjust which took me a long time. But I was changing my role also, and although it’s something I’ve done in the past, it’s not what I had been doing for the past two years so I was a little rusty.


Marcel Kittel (Team Giant-Shimano) is one of the top three sprinters right now. He’s really stepped it up in the last two years, we saw that at the Tour de France with the stages he won. You don’t do that unless you’re one of the best sprinters in the world. The competition has got a lot stronger for sure, everyone is catching up now. Before Cav was easily the strongest sprinter and now there’s a lot more top contenders in the sprint.


Although the emphasis has mainly been on sprinting, I think a big goal is to improve in the World Tour rankings, and to do this you need to have guys who are contenders for the Grand Tours and that’s where Rigoberto Uran fits into things. I think he’s down to do the Giro, with the objective of winning it.

Michal Kwiatkowski has been going well this season, he seems to be getting stronger and stronger. He’s pure class, he’s really on top of his game right now. He won Strade Bianche, and he’s only going to get stronger because he’s still quite young. But he’s a top top rider, and going to be a massive asset this season.

Next up for Renshaw is the 3 days of de Panne, where he will again be on hand to guide Mark Cavendish to stage wins. The race is LIVE on British Eurosport from 1-3 April

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