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Making the grade: How the sprinters stack up

Goss, Renshaw still searching for comfort spot

Two of Cavendish’s ex-teammates have found it’s not as easy as they had hoped going up against their old boss.

Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) and Mark Renshaw (Rabobank) have each struck out on their own with mixed results after the collapse of High Road last season.

Each of the Aussies has just one win in their respective 2012 season, and in a discipline where wins count for everything, that’s a rather paltry return against high expectations.

Both had their reasons. Goss, 25, was knocked back by illness in the spring campaign and notched five second-places in a row before punching through to victory in stage 3 at the Giro. Renshaw, meanwhile, has been feeling his way into his new role as the lead sprinter after years developing a reputation as the best leadout man in the business.

Renshaw, who was Cavendish’s pilot for four seasons, took the chance to lead at Rabobank with gusto. He’s been knocking at the door of a big win all season, with scores of top-fives before finally getting his victory at the Presidential Tour of Turkey in a photo finish against Goss.

Renshaw, 29, has also been sharing sprint duties through the first half of the season with ex-trackie Theo Bos, who will not be going to the Tour de France. Bos won two stages in Turkey thanks to immaculate work by Renshaw to lead him out. The pair went into the Giro planning to work together, but Bos crashed hard in stage 2, with injuries later diagnosed as a cracked veterbra.

“I have no regrets about taking this chance with Rabobank,” Renshaw told VeloNews during the Tour of Turkey. “If I wanted a chance to win, I knew I would have to leave Mark. We have no problems between us. He understands why I did it and we’re still friends.”

Goss, meanwhile, will have huge pressure on his shoulders to deliver at least one victory in the sprints during the Tour.

Orica-GreenEdge will not have a GC rider, so the start-up Aussie team will be banking on Goss and opportunists such as Simon Gerrans to score a stage victory.

With its pronouncement that stage wins are the only target for the Tour, Orica will likely have the most formidable train in France. The peloton got a good look at what’s in store during the Giro, when Daryl Impey and Brett Lancaster gave Team Sky a run for the money on the rails in the final kilometers.

In the psychological battle that’s often just as important as the physical, Goss will go into the Tour knowing he still hasn’t beaten Cavendish head-to-head.

His lone win in the Giro came in the crash-marred third stage, when Ferrari swept out the front wheel of Cavendish in the final dash to the line. Goss scored two other second-places during the Giro before abandoning after stage 13, both times second to — who else — Cavendish.

“I know it’s hard to beat Cav, but I know I can do it,” Goss told VeloNews earlier this season. “When we can knock him off his train and he has to come over the top, that’s when it’s harder for him. That’s when we have the best chance to beat him.”

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