Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw (HTC-Highroad) have built up a wonderful understanding over the past three seasons.
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Australian ace to be reunited with Cavendish
Mark Cavendish's much-scrutinized sprint train faltered in stage 10 of the Tour de France to Saint-Malo on Tuesday – but its derailments may soon be a thing of the past.
Cyclingnews understands that a deal to reunite Cavendish with his former HTC-Highroad lead-out man Mark Renshaw is already in place. Under UCI rules, transfers cannot be announced before August 1, but an agreement that will take Renshaw from Belkin to Omega Pharma-Quick-Step has been sealed.
Renshaw and Cavendish formed one of the most potent partnerships ever seen in Tour de France sprints. With the Australian as his pilot, Cavendish won 14 stages in the three Tours from 2009 to 2011. Throughout that time, he hailed Renshaw as the "best lead-out man in the world".
While the Aussie has won two races and collected a number of good results in his eighteen months as one of Belkin's (formerly Rabobank and Blanco) front-line sprinters, he is now keen to revert to his old role as a lead-out man. Belkin surprisingly left the 30-year-old out of their Tour line-up.
Omega Pharma-QuickStep will certainly benefit from Renshaw's race-craft, speed and positioning in the final 500 metres of races. On Tuesday, Cavendish broke loose from his current lead-out man, Gert Steegmans, when the latter seemed to accelerate too early in the closing kilometre. Steegmans had found himself too far back when Lotto Belisol and Argos-Shimano overtook and overwhelmed the Omega Pharma line with around two kilometres to go.
"I think it's a question of routine a lot of the time," Rolf Aldag, Omega Pharma's sports & development manager, commented in Saint-Malo moments after Marcel Kittel's winning sprint. "The guys are really, really trying, and you saw how much horsepower they have in the team time trial. You don't do a 58kph average in a 25km time trial without having horsepower… So far we've done it once perfectly and twice far from perfectly, so it's just a question of practice, I think."
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