Mark Renshaw said that his victory in the Tour of Qatar will not alter the sprint hierarchy at HTC-Highroad. The Australian became leader of the team midway through the race once it became apparent that his form outstripped that of his leader Mark Cavendish.
"I certainly didn’t expect to be in the position of winning the Tour of Qatar at the start of the week," Renshaw told Cyclingnews in Doha. "I was very happy with my prologue, I was happy to be up there in a good position. That put me up there for the rest of the week. Unfortunately we had the Cavendish crash so the focus shifted towards getting a result to me."
Renshaw assumed the responsibility of leading HTC-Highroad’s Qatari challenge after stage two, when Cavendish failed to make an impression in a mass sprint captured by his fierce rival Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo).
"I think after three days the team shifted all its focus to me," Renshaw said. "Mark wasn’t feeling at the top of his game. The crash really affected him. I think his form is good but he’s just been a little bit unlucky so far this season."
By winning the penultimate stage, Renshaw took the overall lead from his fellow countryman Haussler. On the final day, he picked up two seconds at intermediate bonus sprints, then marked Haussler tightly to seal victory. While Renshaw was delighted with the win, he insisted that he will be equally happy to pilot Cavendish to victory in the major races later in the season.
"It’s good to get some runs on the board, I don’t get the chance too often," Renshaw explained. "But I don’t think it’s going to affect [the hierarchy] too much because once I get to the bigger races I’ll be racing for Mark Cavendish again. It’s a role that I enjoy doing and it’s a role that he and the team appreciate.
"I’m looking forward to getting more opportunities for myself and I’m also looking forward to winning big races with Mark Cavendish."
While Renshaw is reluctant to upset the leadership apple cart at HTC-Highroad, he is vying for leadership of the Australian team at the world championships in Copenhagen with a number of other fastmen, including Haussler and his own teammate Matt Goss. His Tour of Qatar victory was an important step in his bid to be a protected rider in the autumn.
"I’ve said all along that I’d like to be a leader of the Australian team," Renshaw told Cyclingnews. "I know the depth within the team is enormous, I’ve got some top Australians on my own team. It’s going to be interesting to see how they go with the selection but I’m quietly confident I’ll be there in Denmark in some form, and hopefully I’ll have the same form I had here on the Tour of Qatar."