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Mark Renshaw was on parade after an immaculate performance in the Tour de France.
Australian returns at Hel van het Mergelland
Mark Renshaw of HTC-Columbia will back in action this Saturday at the Hel van het Mergelland in the Netherlands after missing the early part of the season due to the Epstein-Barr virus that ruined his preparation for his 2010 campaign.
Renshaw is recognised as the world's best lead-out man, having delivered Mark Cavendish to numerous victories including six stages of the 2009 Tour de France. Renshaw is now on schedule for helping the world's best sprinter win stages at the Tour of California (May 16-23) and at the Tour de France in July.
"I'm excited to be racing again," Renshaw said. "I started training in the late January. On the second or third week of February, I could do some intensity again, that means I have done five to six weeks of intense work. It should be enough to be competitive. I don't want to go too deep straight away, but just to finish in the peloton."
Three one-day races are on Renshaw's agenda as Rund um Köln (April 5) in Germany and the Scheldeprijs (April 7) in Belgium will follow the Hel van het Mergelland.
His first stage race will be the Presidential Tour of Turkey (April 11-18) where his motivation will increase a bit more. "I've looked through the stages," he said. "The prologue looks good, that's a chance to sort everything out. Then there are a couple of sprints and mountain stages. It might be good for Andre [Greipel]. I'll just be going to try my legs again."
Renshaw will appear again on the UCI World Calendar at the Tour of Romandie (April 27-May 2).
"The first real objective is California," he made clear. "I'm confident to get good form again by then and be strong for the Tour de France. I've missed part of the 2010 season but I'm looking ahead now. There's still a long way to go 'til the end of the year. Obviously, to have the world championship in October in Australia is another motivating factor. I hope to prepare for it at the Vuelta."