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Renshaw: ‘We have to win’

After knocking on the door, Rabobank captain says the time is now for sprint wins

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WEVELGEM, Belgium (VN) — Mark Renshaw knows it is time to score his first victory with new team Rabobank. Since leaving Mark Cavendish’s side, going from last lead-out man to captain, he has had little to cheer about.

He told VeloNews Sunday morning in Deinze, Belgium, ahead of the Ghent-Wevelgem, “We need to win some races now.”

The 29-year-old Australian led Rabobank in the Tour Down Under and the Tour of Qatar, but came up short against stronger rivals André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) and Cavendish (Sky), both former teammates at HTC-Highroad. Second and third places are all the Australian has to show for himself in his first tenure as a protected sprinter.

Renshaw started with French teams FDJ and Crédit Agricole, but was largely known for his work at HTC. Cavendish won 20 Tour stages over the last four years, the majority with the help of Renshaw. When the team disbanded over the winter, Cavendish went to Sky and Renshaw took on a leadership role at the Dutch team.

“HTC had the same mentality as our team does,” Rabobank sports director, Nico Verhoeven told VeloNews. “It’s not that different for him.”

Renshaw rode well in Milan-San Remo, but suffered an untimely tire puncture ahead of the Kemmelberg on Sunday. After a short break, most of the Giro d’Italia team — including Graeme Brown, Tom Leezer and Theo Bos — will race the Tour of Turkey.

“When all the top sprinters are in the same place, only one guy can win and it makes it harder on him,” Verhoeven added. “He will race in Turkey before the Giro with a team of sprinters, with six guys that will race the Giro, including Theo Bos.”

After a week away from racing, Renshaw returns in the Scheldeprijs next Wednesday and Köln on April 9, and then he’ll race in Turkey from April 22 to 29 and the Giro from May 5 to 29.

Renshaw said, “We have to win in those races.”

He added that the team expects to win two or three stages in Turkey, with him, Brown and Bos each having a try.

The critics still roll their eyes. They say Renshaw may be better off leading out sprints and he’ll never match Greipel or Cavendish.

“I’m trying my best, but I don’t think Rabobank signed me with the intention to win 20 races a year,” Renshaw explained.

“Look at the sprinters out there — Cav, Marcel Kittel and André Greipel — they are all stronger or faster than me, so the only way that I can beat them is to catch them out or if they have a little bit of bad luck. In Qatar, we only had big winners and in Down Under, Greipel was on top of his game; with a good leadout train he’s hard to beat.”

Despite the ‘win now’ mandate, Renshaw is not thinking about the pressure. He said that he’s focused on Turkey, Italy and in July, France.

“It probably looked like Cav took a lot of pressure in HTC, but I think the team took a lot of pressure,” said Renshaw. “He may have pressure from the media, but I dare say I took a lot of pressure in the race.”