2012 represents a new chapter in the careers of Mark Renshaw and Mark Cavendish. The two men rode together at the now disbanded HTC Highroad team and enjoyed a large amount of success, with the Australian Renshaw acting as the final leadout man for Cavendish as he swept up numerous victories and accolades along the way.
Now, at tomorrow's Tour of Qatar, the two men will line up against each other for the first time since they joined new teams - Renshaw moved to Rabobank in the off-season and Cavendish moved "home" to join British outfit Team Sky.
Much has been made of the role that Renshaw has played in Cavendish's past successes and the jury is out on whether he can match the glory of the past couple of seasons without his friend and former teammate. Provided Cavendish recovers from a rough flight over to Qatar, with his team remaining confident that he will, we will get our initial answers over the coming week.
Renshaw debuted for Rabobank last month in his homeland at the Tour Down Under and is hopeful that having a race under his belt already might give him an edge over his friend and rival, as he looks to successfully defend the race that he surprisingly won last season when he upstaged Cavendish.
''It's going to be the first time I get to race against 'Cav','' Renshaw told the Sydney Morning Herald. "The goal is to catch him off guard. It's his first race of the year. He'll be hard to beat if he's in good shape but it wouldn't surprise me if one day I beat him. He's a great rider, the fastest - I've said that all along."
Renshaw went on to predict that team tactics will come into play during the race and that all the teams must find the correct formula quickly to get the most out of their shuffled packs this early on.
"Qatar is a bit chaotic in the sprints," he said. "It's about getting it all together in the right way. If I can get the team working well I am confident that I'll be around the mark for the win."