Mark Renshaw has expressed his reservations about the ties between Orica-GreenEdge and the Australian elite men’s road team, and voiced his preference for either Brad McGee or Allan Peiper to be installed as the new professional men’s road coordinator.
Matt White, the previous incumbent, stepped down from the post and from his role as Orica-GreenEdge sports director in October after he confessed to doping during his time as a rider at US Postal Service. Cycling Australia is expected to name his replacement early in 2013.
Renshaw, who rides for Blanco Pro Cycling, was omitted from the Australian selection for both the world championships in Copenhagen in 2011 and the London 2012 Olympics, and he believes that Cycling Australia should look beyond the GreenEdge set-up for the new national coach.
“I’d like to see Brad McGee or Allan Peiper take that role because these guys know the talent and the hard work I’ve put in,” Renshaw told Cyclingnews. “There’s a lot mentioned about GreenEdge but hopefully that doesn’t play a role, and hopefully those guys who know me can play a part in the future.”
The close links between Cycling Australia and Orica-GreenEdge mirror those between British Cycling and Team Sky, and Renshaw took a pragmatic view when asked if he felt that such crossover between national federations and trade teams was counter-productive.
“If I was in GreenEdge, I’d probably say no! But yeah, standing on the other side of the fence, there probably needs to be more division between the two," he said. "Of course the federation likes to see the link between the two, but it definitely makes it harder for riders who aren’t part of the trade teams linked to national federations.”
Although he had helped to pilot Mark Cavendish, André Greipel and Matt Goss to numerous victories during his three-year spell at Team Highroad, Renshaw was surprisingly overlooked for the role of Goss’ lead-out man at the Copenhagen world championships in 2011. He admitted that he is still at a loss as to why he was deemed persona non grata by Matt White and the Australian management.
“I don’t know if it was personal or professional,” Renshaw said. “The Worlds was pretty much the qualifying for the Olympics, not taking me to the Worlds meant that I couldn’t go to the Olympics.
“One or two weeks before, at the Tour of Britain, I won one stage and I put the brakes on in another for Cav so he could win. I don’t think there was a form question mark. There has to be some kind of reason but they never gave it to me.”
In the run-up to the Copenhagen Worlds, Renshaw had opted to join Rabobank following the demise of HTC-Highroad rather than wait for an offer from the nascent GreenEdge team, although he did not speculate on whether that affected his relationship with the national team. “I notified them that they had to make an offer and it had to be quick but I didn’t really receive anything in writing so I went with the options I had,” he explained.
Renshaw described the experience of watching those world championships on television as one of the hardest of his life, with emotions running from resentment to “frustration or maybe even anger” as he watched Cavendish, Goss and Greipel fill the podium places. “I watched it but my wife didn’t talk to me for a couple of hours afterwards because I was too angry,” he confessed.
“Cavendish’s sprint was exceptional because he was boxed in on the inside and only Cav could wait that long for it to open, because he’s got such a good kick. The error the Australians made was opening the right hand side up: I think if they had kept it closed, there’s a good chance we might have had a different podium, but Cav had the best legs and he won.”
Although Renshaw had no issue with the selection of Simon Gerrans and Goss as Australia's leaders at the Olympic Games - "Gerrans has proven he's the classiest bike rider Australia has and Goss has proven that he's probably the fastest sprinter on a hilly course" - he admitted that his own disappointment at missing out on selection has not dissipated. “I went to the Athens Olympics on the track and I’d love to have gone on the road. I can understand why they didn’t take me but it’s still frustrating.”