Discuss: Renshaw to Rabo – an end to Cav’s dominance?

2010 Tour de France - Cavendish After Stage 18 Win

Fotoreporter Sirotti

Yesterday, Cyclingnews reported that Rabobank has signed Mark Renshaw, and will support him as their number one sprinter. This comes as something of a surprise this transfer season, as it was widely speculated that HTC’s Mark Cavendish was looking to bring his leadout train with him to his new destination – likely to be Team Sky.

It raises several questions about the futures of Renshaw, Cavendish, and the Grand Tour terrain:

  • Are Renshaw’s career prospects better as a leadout man than as a sprinter? Can he alone ever get the glory and recognition he got as Cav’s Main Man?
  • Is this the end to Cavendish’s Grand Tour sprint dominance? We’ve seen him win and lose with and without his leadout train, and while he’s won without it, the control that his leadout train provides is a major source of his deathgrip on July sprinting.
  • Is the dissolution of HTC, built around supporting Cavendish’s final 200 meters, the beginning of the end of sprint dominance, in general? Without riders like Tony Martin and Bert Grabsch flying HTC’s colors at the front of break-or-sprint stages, there could be more breaks staying away.
  • Following HTC’s surprising demise, we can’t help but wonder if Cavendish could have played a more active role in keeping the team together. Remember that Thomas Voeckler stayed committed to the former Bbox Bouygues Telecom, during its hunt for a new sponsor – thus anchoring the team’s roster, attracting Europcar, and paving the way for what has turned out to be an incredible season. Early though it may be to call Cav’s career in decline, might he come to regret not doing exactly what Voeckler did, in order to keep his fully-loaded leadout train together?

What are your thoughts on the Renshaw transfer and the Cavendish speculation? Share them below.

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10 Responses to Discuss: Renshaw to Rabo – an end to Cav’s dominance?

  1. MW says:

    Did Cav struggle after Ciolek left? Helped him win 4 stages in the Tour as well. Think lead-out men is a much over-rated position Cavendish will find another one will be fine however Renshaw will end up much like Ciolek, not doing a lot.

  2. Adam says:

    Cav will be fine – its not as though Sky has struggled to get sprint wins this year. Henderson says Thomas is the best lead out man going. Ben Swift helped to set up EBH in sprints this July, and EBH in turn led out Sutton in K-B-K this spring. They've got fast me and the team work to make it happen.
    The Europcar is the more salient point here – I'm 100% sure that a sponsor could have been found had Cav been committed to the team for 2 more years.
    Don't think Renshaw will baggnig wins in July, but the Tour Down Under, Paris Nice and Giro are certainly withing reach

  3. Steve in Duluth says:

    I don't think you can blame Cav for the dissolution of Highroad. Maybe it would have helped to have him holding out for a better deal, but he wasn't sure he was going to stay even if Highroad did continue. In the meantime, he kept his mouth shut (quite the feat) and even now we don't know where he's going, even though he says he has decided. It sounds like he kept things quiet, and that could only have helped Highroad's sponsor quest. He was respectful, and that's all you can ask.

    If he goes to Sky he'll be trading Martin and Renshaw for Wiggins and Boasson-Hagen; I think he'll do fine.

  4. Hunter says:

    Well if we assume he's going to sky, I think they have the potential to create an equally strong lead -out train, Geraint Thomas, Ben Swift, Boassen Hagen, Greg Henderson, Michael Barry, and Michael Rogers… Thats a pretty strong combination of sprinters/lead out men, three of which, Henderson, Barry, and Rogers were part of Cav's train during their respective tenures at HTC.

    It could be just the opposite of what your proposing, and if Sky worked out the kinks they could have a train equal to, or better than HTC.

    • Hunter says:

      oh and I almost forgot EBH was part of the HTC team. Although I question his commitment to being a lead out man. I still believe they are capable of doing exactly what HTC has done in the sprints.

  5. Doug P says:

    I have vivid memories of "Super" Mario's leadout train, see from above in the helicopter shots in the TDF and the Giro. No one could come around! Cav's leadouts were equally inspiring. Watching Mark Renshaw, with his impeccable sense of timing, and a turn of speed unparalleled in the sport, wrest victory from the peloton was a real treat! But doing the hat trick of becoming a star in his own right….well, that's a horse of a different flavor! Mark needs to have a talk with Big George about that……

  6. nick says:

    i think compairing Renshaw to Ciolek it abit unfair.

    i'm not expert, but i don't believe Ciolek is a multiple track world champion???

    • cthulhu says:

      No, he isn't, but he went with 19 straight from lowest amateur ranks, where everybody has to start, to German road champion. And he is more than a pure sprinter, he won some really hilly classic like stages. What he was/is missing is some guidance. It was apparent that Cav was the man at highroad, since he is the faster sprinter, so he signed at Milram to learn from Zabel. Unfortunately right after he signed there Zabel left to work with Cav. Since then he is stagnating and has only shown his talent on very rare occasions.

      Renshaw is a great leadout man because of his positioning in the field, even if the train doesn't work out perfectly he usually delivers Cav where he needs to be. If he himself has the speed to be man, that is something to be seen. But maybe he is just the kind of sprinter Rabobank is looking for since it looks like Freire is leaving, somebody who can mingle himself to the front without a train. I just wonder how that makes Bos feel, who is slowly getting better on the road.

  7. steve says:

    I think that cav will have less wins next year. A sprinter needs a leadout man that is as fast as he is. Without renshaw and the htc train cav will have to fight for wheels and he won't be escorted to the front as in the past.

  8. pappy says:

    Renshaw as the protected sprinter at Rabobank… interesting. They already have Bos, Graeme Brown, Oscar Freire (who may well leave now), and the young Aussie talent who took the U23 road championship & whose name I forget. But all were ignored/unsupported come this July in favour of a team built around Robert Hesink, who crashed out as usual. So does this mean that Rabo are finally switching focus to sprinting? I wonder.

    My guess is Cavendish to GreenEdge where different Aussie fastmen can work for him – Sky has other fish to fry. Of course the prospect of all his wins to come might have Brailsford abandoning yellow for a green jersey or three.

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