Mark Renshaw has been pleasantly surprised by his ability to bounce back from the high-speed crash that took him out of the Tour of Turkey on stage 2 and he believes that he will be ready for the Tour de France.
The Blanco sprinter spent just two weeks off the bike following surgery on the broken collarbone he sustained in Turkey, while a few of the associated injuries took a little bit longer to get right. Renshaw returns to racing at the Ronde van Zeeland Seaports this Sunday to get some last-minute leg speed before heading to the Tour de Suisse, where his performance will ultimately determine his Tour inclusion.
"The plan has always been for the Tour but now it just means that at Tour de Suisse I have prove I'm back on the level. If I can prove I'm right to race then there should be no worries," Renshaw told Cyclingnews.
"I had two weeks completely off the bike, one week on the home trainer. I've been back on the road for almost two weeks. I'm going pretty well actually and quite happy with how the recovery has gone. I thought it was going to be a lot harder to come back but it's [the form] has come back quite quick."
Blanco has a formidable line-up for the 200km Zeeland race, with Theo Bos leading the line. Renshaw admits that while his condition is on the up, he probably won't have the legs to contribute to Bos' sprint train, which features fellow Australian Graeme Brown. At Suisse however, there's a number of stages earmarked for sprints but with a difficult parcours and a field full of riders testing themselves ahead of the Grand Depart, bunch sprints are never certain.
"The only chance to race before Suisse is at Zeeland. I can't see myself playing a big role in the race, it's more to get a day of racing under the belt. It seems like there will be a few sprint stages but in saying that it's Tour de Suisse and it's always a hard race," he said.
Renshaw's transition from lead-out man to sprinter and back to sometime-lead-out man has led to mixed feelings for the Australian, who is best-known for his performances alongside Mark Cavendish during his Highroad days. At Blanco, Renshaw has come to understand that if Bos is there, it's almost certain the Dutchman will be given the lead.
"It works quite well for the team when we race together but if we ride together we always ride for him, so I try to do a different program a lot," he explained.
Assuming Suisse goes to plan Renshaw should be in Corsica on June 29 but as has been the case a number of times this season, Renshaw won't have support for the sprint stages. With a team that has ambitions for the general classification, he will have to be there to take opportunities when they arise, after his team duties have been performed.
"If I go to the Tour it will be to support Bauke Mollema and Robert Gesink, who are the leaders of the team. They are focused on GC so if I go it will be to help those guys. I can obviously try to take my chance in sprint stages but they [Blanco] won't have support for me," said Renshaw.
The Australia National Team
Critical of his omission from Cycling Australia's selection for the 2011 world championships and 2012 Olympic Games, Renshaw was satisfied with the appointment of Brad McGee and Brian Stephens, who will share the National Team DS position. Renshaw had voiced his backing of the former professional McGee into the role held by Matt White - until he stepped down - and believes sharing the work load with Stephens should work well.
"I think he's going to be great in that role. I've known Brad a long time, he's a smart guy and he'll do a great job. He's in Australia now but they will have Brian Stephens to look over the European racing so between the two of them they will do a good job."