Mark Renshaw has become the protected sprinter at Omega Pharma-QuickStep after Mark Cavendish crashed on stage 1 in Harrogate, and the experienced Australian stepped up in central London, finishing third behind Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale).
"It's an honour to be on the podium with those guys. We made a plan before the stage and it worked pretty well," the Australian said after a warm down in Horse Guard Parade before heading to London City airport for the brief flight to northern France.
"My job coming into the Tour was to work for Mark. It's a pity he's not here otherwise he'd be challenging for the win. Kittel has won again but I believe that Cav is the fastest in the peloton.
"It's a big change to lose our leader on the first stage like that. It gives us big opportunities but we miss him. Now I've got a chance to ride for myself but I've also got a lot more responsibility. I've got some big shoes to fill."
Renshaw says Omega Pharma-QuickStep's Tour isn’t over
Renshaw was well-protected by his Omega Pharma-QuickStep teammates for much of the finale but the Belgian lead-out train ran out of steam when Giant-Shimano hit the front, forcing Renshaw to follow the wheels. His track experience helped him in the final corners on wet roads near Buckingham Palace and then he had the speed to find a way through to take third on The Mall.
"I came into the Tour with a lot of confidence and good form. I've also been around a long time and know how to read a sprint," he explained.
"It's never easy and there are so many teams at such a high level these days. There are three or four teams who can do great lead-outs. That's why we have to be happy with third place and stay optimistic. Our Tour de France isn’t over, we've got to fight in the other sprints and we've also got Michal Kwiatkowski for overall and Tony Martin for the time trial."