Warming up for Paris-Nice and Milan-San Remo
I now have two stage races under my belt now so it's time for another blog – I'm also back in Europe. It's still a bit fresh over here but it's about 10 degrees warmer than when they had the cold snap which is lucky for me.
With the Tour Down Under and Qatar out of the way, I'm personally disappointed not to have walked away with a victory. I was happy with the Tour Down Under but when it comes to Qatar, I think I had better legs than what I showed but for one or two reasons I didn't manage to put anything on the board there – the closest I got was a third on the last stage.
Positioning is the most important factor in a sprint and I just wasn't in the right spot on the days when it counted. I didn't put myself in the best position and with the new team, we're still trying to learn. We all tried 100 per cent but up against Boonen, Cavendish and Farrar it's hard to win when you're not in the best position.
He may have missed Qatar but I think Andre Greipel's still going very well. The way I heard he was riding in Oman (I haven't seen any coverage of it) it sounded like he is still in top form. Marcel Kittel smoked all of them twice proving he will be hard to beat this year. When it comes to Mark Cavendish he may be finding the sprints a little bit chaotic and it might take him a little while before he adapts to that. He has bigger objectives where he will be looking to stamp his authority.
When it comes to myself, I'm definitely on the right track but I haven't managed to get that result. If you look at the sprinters who were in Down Under and Qatar, if I had of got one up against them then it would have been a nice win.
Generally, the whole level of the peloton is much higher because they had such good weather throughout November and December in Europe and I think that's really showed – those guys usually come to Qatar and Oman to train but this time they all turned up for the win. Normally it's the Aussies and the guys who have been in good weather dominating until mid-February.
There was a bit of talk that anyone who was racing Qatar and Oman had a two-week advantage on the guys that were racing the Tour Méditerranéen in France. While the Middle East climate definitely helped, you need to remember that all the team camps in December had good weather.
In regards to the Tour of Hangzhou that will take place after the Tour of Beijing as an additional race on the UCI WorldTour, the peloton starts racing in January, 100 per cent for points and they add this race at the back end of the season, the season now becomes too long. I don't know what happens to those riders who target the start of the year and Tour de France. They'll need to have a month off but as long as the teams understand it shouldn't be a problem.
I'm keen to get up to Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne this weekend. It's been a long time since I've ridden in the cold and in the classics. However, I'm not going to be too ambitious if the weather doesn't suit me! Then it's on to Paris-Nice which I haven't ridden for a few years. It will be a good chance to pick up a stage win there. After Paris-Nice I will have some recovery time and then I will line up in Milan-San Remo. I'm hoping to do well in Milan-Sam Remo, last year we saw Matt Goss use Paris-Nice in the lead-up to San Remo – that obviously worked.
I'm curious to see if I've progressed a little bit in the one-day classics. My role up until this year hasn't allowed me to ride these kinds of races. I'm hoping to perform well and to help the strong classics riders in the team.
It's a pretty important time of year for Rabobank, we would have liked to have picked up a win by now but we've missed out whilst still getting a lot of places. It will be great to get that first win on the board and get the monkey off the back.
- 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.
- July 17, 2012, 0:00 BST
Why you never want to leave the grand boucle
- June 26, 2012, 2:15 BST
Mark on his final preparations for the Tour de France
- June 14, 2012, 7:05 BST
Mark on learning from the Giro