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Mark Renshaw (HTC-Highroad) at the sign on in Taunton
Door still open for sprinter for London 2012
Matt White declared Australia's silver medal in the men's Worlds road race a success and backed his call to leave Mark Renshaw at home. Matt Goss won silver behind Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) and the result secured Australia's third medal in three years in the men's race.
"I'm very happy with that result," White told Cyclingnews. "We didn't go into the race as one of the big favourites. No one was rating Matt Goss because he hasn't had the results that people were expecting of him. We knew he was going well though."
The Australians rode a tactically-sound race. Simon Clarke was dispatched in the first break of the day, allowing his teammates to rest easy in the bunch. The move also hurried Great Britain into a day of chasing, a measure Australia hoped would leave Cavendish exposed at the finish.
After over 260km of racing and heading into the final turn only Australia, Great Britain and to some extent Germany, appeared to have structured leadouts, with Mat Hayman and Heinrich Haussler both visible towards the front of the field.
"The plan was to have Hayman to take O'Grady into the bottom of the last climb and if it was a perfect world it would have been Hayman, O'Grady, Haussler and Goss. They got a little bit lost on that last corner but Haussler did a bloody good lead out."
However Haussler and Goss split and despite Haussler pressing on Goss was forced to fight for himself.
"Looking at the replay it looks like Cavendish was behind Gossy and Cavendish has snuck through underneath."
The missing link?
Heading into the Worlds the Australian camp was criticised for not selecting Mark Renshaw. The 28-year-old is recognised as one, if not the best, leadout men in the world and whether it was mind games or truth, Mark Cavendish was quick to point out that Renshaw's non-selection harmed both Australia's chances and improved his own.
However Haussler was there when it mattered and no matter how good Renshaw's hypothetical performance may have been there are no guarantees he would have done a better job.
"I'm happy with the nine guys we had and they did the job. I stand by the decision of the nine guys we picked. I'll say it again; a sprint after six hours of racing is not a sprint after four hours of racing. A world championships is a world championships. It's not a stage of the Tour de France or Giro d'Italia," he told Cyclingnews, implying that Renshaw's stamina didn't stand up to Haussler's.
Coming into the race, that was a bold call. Haussler has struggled for form throughout the season having missed almost all of 2010 through injury. He came back at the start of this year but found his legs lacking the necessary power in the classics. Renshaw, on the other hand, has raced in two grand tours and won four races.
"I think the guys we picked; we could rely on to deliver Gossy in the finish.
"I've had faith in Heinrich and his condition was always going to be good. I think you'll see a different Heinrich Haussler next spring than we saw this year. He basically had a year off last year."
Goss's medal guarantees him a place in Australia's Olympic team and White now has four spots from five to fill before next year's London showdown. As for Renshaw, the door isn't closed yet.
"The door is open. One spot down and four spots left," White said.