Mark Renshaw is reasonably confident of a Tour de France berth as he prepares to make his comeback from an awful crash at the Ronde van Zeeland this weekend.
Renshaw was the hardest hit in a high-speed smash at the Tour of Turkey last month fracturing his collarbone in three places and damaging teeth. He underwent successful surgery on his collarbone that doctors mended with a plate and 10 pins and had a front tooth capped.
The Australian is managing an ankle problem but is generally well ahead of Sunday’s one-day race as well as the Tour de Suisse in which his performance is likely to determine Tour selection.
“I remember before the crash,” Renshaw told Cycling Weekly today.
“We were in pole position. The team did a really good job and it looked like we were going to take a stage win. All of a sudden I just pulled over the top of Graeme’s [Brown] wheel. Normally you can rub it for a second and hold it upright but I just went down instantly. I didn’t even get a chance to do anything.
“It’s by far the worst crash I’ve ever had. Touchwood I’ve been pretty lucky with crashes. It’s the first time I’ve ever made a mistake so it hurt!”
Renshaw has been training ahead of his return to racing. He had planned to compete at Bayern-Rundfahrt last week but delayed his comeback at the last minute.
“I’ve been at home in Monaco just tapping away with training there, and a lot of gym work trying to build the shoulder back up,” he said.
Renshaw missed three races in Bayern, GP Cologne and the Tour of Norway but the emphasis has always been on the June 8-16 Tour de Suisse.
“I don’t know the make-up of the team yet for the Tour. They’ve basically got me on the pending list to see how I come through Suisse,” he said.
“If I’m fit in Suisse and show good potential then there’s no reason I won’t be at the Tour. But if I’m struggling to get back up to form then I’m sure they’ll think twice about taking me.
“All the training I’ve done seems to be good but it’s different when you haven’t raced in a little while,” he added ahead of the Ronde van Zeeland. “I’m sure I’ll suffer a little bit the first few days until I get the rhythm back.”
Renshaw’s Blanco team is in search of a new title sponsor after Rabobank pulled naming rights earlier this year. Apparently riders have not been informed of any developments. Rumours of a possible deal with Belkin did surface at the Giro d’Italia. However, the future of the team has not publicly been assured.
Renshaw’s current contract with the Dutch outfit expires at the end of this season. He is still considering a few offers already on the table, and his future as a marquee sprinter or possible reprisal of his role as world’s best lead-out man.
If the 30-year-old does start the Tour it’s likely he’ll have minimal assistance in sprint stages, like last year, with Blanco set to base its squad around yellow jersey hopefuls Robert Gesink and Bauke Mollema.
“They’ve already told me if I go I have to help Mollema and Gesink. I’ll have a chance to do some sprints if I can, otherwise I’ll be helping those guys as a bit of a road captain and making sure they stay out of trouble,” said Renshaw.
“It might even be wise of me to take it easy on some sprint stages in the first week until the race settles down. There’s no big pressure.”
Renshaw has superior race nous and has been studying sprint finishes throughout his recovery, and prior to it. He showed teammates footage of his famous 2009 Champs-Élysées show, in which he was second to then teammate Mark Cavendish, before the Tour of Turkey that Blanco sent a sprint squad to.
“I’ve done a lot of big days training. You can’t completely replicate the racing but I think I’ll be on a good level,” he said.