If Etixx-QuickStep sprinter Mark Cavendish wants to win the final stage of this year’s Tour de France on the Champs Elysees Sunday, he’ll have to figure out a way to do it without the services of ace lead-out man Mark Renshaw.
The 32-year-old Australian abandoned the race during Thursday’s 18th stage to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne after suffering the ill-effects of a migraine headach that started the day before.
"Yesterday at the end of the stage I came down with a migraine before the final climb, and the pain never went away overnight," Renshaw said. "I woke up with the same pain this morning. It's pain from really stiff muscles in my neck, and that pain from the stiffness has gone up into my head in the form of a migraine.”
Renshaw said that while riding over every hole, bump and rough patch on the road Thursday, he could feel the pain in his head and the stiffness in his neck.
“I've never experienced anything like that before,” he said. “Together with the team we decided for me to stop. There is no way I could keep going like this. I already knew when I woke up this morning that it'd be hard to finish the stage. The pain was so intense and never lessened.”
If Cavendish can make it though the next two days, he will certainly feel Renshaw’s absence on Sunday when the race bears down on Paris and the sprinters get one last chance for glory. The Manxman has collected only one stage win in this year’s race, and he’s certainly champing at the bit to add another.
For his part, Renshaw said his legs were feeling OK and he was ready to help Cavendish on Sunday. He said he’s really disappointed that he won’t be there.
“I'm really sad about it, especially since I can't be there to help Mark Cavendish for the sprint on Sunday,” he said. “But I will absolutely be there in Paris to give my full support to my teammates in any way I can, and I wish them the best of luck in these final two days in the Alps before then."