Among the rookies at this year's Tour de France, Mark Renshaw will be a name to watch. The 25 year-old Australian could have a direct impact on the results sheet in his new role as lead-out man for Thor Hushovd. Cyclingnews' Jean-François Quénet caught up with him in Monaco as he completed his training on the French Riviera.
Now in his fifth year as a professional and third at Crédit Agricole, Mark Renshaw has finally received the call up to the world's biggest bike race. Had that call not come this year, the rider who learnt his trade with Bradley McGee at Française des Jeux says he may have quit the sport he's been devoted to since the age of nine. His selection process inside the French team started back in October last year, two days before Paris-Tours, when Crédit Agricole held its gathering to prepare for the following season.
Just as fellow French squad Cofidis developed Sylvain Chavanel for the Belgian classics after losing some of its specialists, Crédit Agricole looked inside its own ranks for a successor to Julian Dean. The New Zealander's departure for Slipstream (now Garmin) had left a vacancy for a lead-out man for Thor Hushovd, a role in which the Norwegian had previously described Dean as the best in the world.
"I sat down with Thor and I told him that I definitely thought I had the power to do it," explained Renshaw, while sitting on a terrace in Monaco near to his French home. Before accepting his new role, the former track cycling star from Bathurst in New South Wales had just been one more fast guy on the B program of Crédit Agricole, looking for secondary success at the minor races. What's more, his performances in Europe had showcased little of the speed that had made him famous in the southern hemisphere.
"After that meeting I changed things and became a lead-out man," Renshaw continued. "We needed a bit of racing together. Once it happened, we matched really well at the Four Days of Dunkirk and the Tour of Catalunya and we sealed the deal. Coming out of my wheel, Thor won a bunch sprint at both these two races. Normally I would have gone with him at the Dauphiné as well but the Tour de Suisse appeared to be a better preparation for me."