Half of Dimension Data's team for the Tour de France have had to scramble to overcome illness and injury, and Mark Renshaw said he risked getting sick to prepare for the race on the back of a scuppered season. With so much adversity to overcome, the team has "nothing to lose", and Renshaw is ready to find any chance to give the team a victory.
Chief pilot to Mark Cavendish, Renshaw had a dogged lead-up to the 104th edition of the race, rushing to return from an ankle fracture sustained in a crash at Scheldeprijs, while Cavendish has spent much of the year recovering from Epstein-Barr virus.
"It's borderline getting crook because you're trying to cram in as much as possible," Renshaw had observed last month. "This is going to be the most underdone I've ever come into the Tour de France. I'm missing racing and I'm missing training, so it's going to be hard there is no doubt about it.
"But with Cav kind of on the same level we've got nothing to lose. If we could pull off a stage or two that would be pretty nice, especially with the last couple of months that we've both had. We go in with the idea of trying to win a stage but in reality, the build-up has been difficult for a lot of the guys on the team so if we can do a result it'd be pretty good. But [Marcel] Kittel and these guys have had a magic season to date so they'll be hard to beat."
Speaking before the Tour team presentation in Düsseldorf, Germany on Thursday, Renshaw was slightly more optimistic about his shape and that of Dimension Data teammates, including Steve Cummings, who marked a stunning return to form at the British national championships claiming gold in the time trial and road race last week.
"He's come back quite well," Renshaw said.
The Australian lead-out specialist following ankle surgery estimated his form at 95 per cent, which hasn't changed days out from the Grand Depart.
"It's still probably 95 because the last five per cent is always the racing that brings you up so until I get in and do some racing it'll be quite hard to get to 100 per cent, so just deal with what we have," Renshaw said.
"It'll help that we will be able to come off the back foot a little bit, not have big pressure on us or have to commit too early. Everyone looks pretty good. We're looking for opportunities, we don't really have a GC rider so besides sprints and some intermediate stages we don't have a whole lot to do here. There's quite a few opportunities in the first week so we'll try to go the maximum."