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It's time for Rabobank to deliver a sprint win

By:
Mark Renshaw
Published:
May 09, 2012, 0:11 BST,
Updated:
May 09, 2012, 8:10 BST
Race:
Giro d'Italia

Mark on the changing sprint game, Ferrari and the TTT

It's been an interesting Giro so far. We may have been in Denmark but realistically, the finishes were what you come to expect from the Giro, particularly yesterday with the circuit at the end of the stage – lots of corners and definitely hectic.

Starting with the prologue, personally I took it a little bit easy just to save my legs for the first two road stages. It was decided that for stage 2 the team would pull for Theo. We tried to set the sprint up for him but unfortunately, he had William Bonnet come underneath and force him wide therefore underlapping my wheel and crashing. I thought we may have been going too fast for the corner so there wasn't much I could do other then break slightly. I was still happy to finish sixth. I had 50 metres to change my mindset and come up with a plan. In the end I decided to wait, then try and follow – at one point I had a gap on the right and I should have gone – so I paid the price and got stuck in the wheels. I was happy to still finish in the top 10 after changing my mindset within two seconds of Theo's crash.

The stage 3 wash-up has had its fair share of headlines but I think the UCI really need to look at sprinting. Ferrari's move was kamikaze and very bad on his behalf. The penalties need to be stricter. The relegation wasn't enough. I got made an example of a few years ago in the Tour de France. This was a real chance for the UCI to take a stand against those who deviate off their sprinting line. This year we've got more teams with more sprinters who are able to win. To have guys riding like that is just not acceptable.

What we saw in Denmark was a lot of the GC teams trying to stay in front because of the wind and the corners. While things generally improve over the final three kilometres of a stage like we had on Monday, we still have a lot of teams and a lot of riders taking risks. Everyone needs to concentrate on sprinting straight because at the moment, we just have too many kamikazes.

The one thing that has become increasingly obvious given the calibre of sprinters that we have at this first grand tour of the year, is that what Highroad managed to achieve in regards to their leadout is going to be seriously hard to replicate.

In 2011, we had the leadout down pat. Everybody knew their position and their role. Have a look at the results from stage 2 on Sunday and you have Cavendish, Goss and I all in the top six – that was the leadout for the Tour de France last year. It's obvious that what we had last year was exceptional. Since Highroad fell apart, there seems to be a lot less respect for each team during the leadout. On Monday we saw Sky try and take control and yet still there were riders coming underneath on the corners. When Highroad was in action, other teams would base their sprint on riding off the back of us and their tactic was to wait until the last minute. This year it's a case of going to the front and if it's detrimental to the team doing the lead out, then it doesn't seem to matter.

Heading into the team time trial on Wednesday, Rabobank has a strong team. If we finish in the top six, then we'll be pretty happy. I'm expecting Sky, Garmin and BMC to be the strongest.

There is another sprint stage for me coming up on Thursday and I'm in good shape. We're down in Italy now so the real Giro starts. We will have to see what the plan is. Theo fell quite hard and we've had other riders crash. One thing is for sure; in the next two sprint stages I'll have one chance for a result. Rabobank want to press ahead with both sprinters, they don't want to pick one. We just need to be honest with each other and go for the best rider on the day and we'll see how it pans out. On Monday I had Brown help me until two kilometres to go. It's hard when we can't get three or four guys together but hopefully we can after tomorrow.

We have made a big improvement at Rabobank the last few months with the sprint team. We now need to get it right and start delivering the results.

I hope the next week at the Giro is kind to us.

 

Author
Mark Renshaw

The 29-year-old is embarking on his most pivotal year in his career to date in 2012, having made his mark as the world's best leadout man for Mark Cavendish at HTC-Highroad. Riding for Rabobank, Renshaw is facing a new challenge as he takes on the role as the Dutch team's number one sprinter, ready to be first across the finish line instead of dragging a teammate to the prize.  

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