By Sophie Smith
Lead-out specialist turned key sprinter Mark Renshaw has all but ruled out his chances of making the Australian road race team for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The 29-year-old was controversially omitted from the nine-man squad that competed on a sprinter's course at last year's world championships in which compatriot Matt Goss won silver.
The Australian Olympic Association (AOC) is not expected to announce the national five-man road team before June 25. Governing body, Cycling Australia must lodge its nominations with the AOC on June 22.
"I spoke to them (selectors) this year about it but I'm pretty sure I definitely won't be going," Renshaw told Cycling Weekly yesterday.
"With who they have and who they like to take I don't see a spot for myself. Goss already pre-qualified with the worlds and I think (Simon) Gerrans has shown he is probably the strongest.
"When you have the rumours that (Stuart) O'Grady will hold the flag at the opening ceremony then pretty much he has to go and then there's two or three other riders like Cadel (Evans), (Michael) Rogers, Richie Porte and Mat Hayman.
"I think the spots are very limited and I think I'd only go if Goss couldn't."
Goss furthered his chances of selection winning a stage of the Giro d'Italia last month whilst Orica-GreenEdge teammate Simon Gerrans has shown form taking out the both the Tour Down Under and Milan-San Remo this season. Tour de France champion Evans as well as Rogers and Porte are all in the mix to fill the two time-trial spots on offer.
Great Britain's Mark Cavendish, who beat Goss to win gold at the world titles in Denmark, is one of the favourites for the road race in what will be a home Olympics for the 27-year-old.
The Sky sprinter has altered his approach to training this season and readily admits he might win less stages at the Tour, compared to previous years, focusing on endurance and sacrificing some top end speed in lieu of his golden ambitions at the Games.
The 156 mile course (250km) includes nine laps of the Box Hill climb, which is likely to be a decisive factor in the race, and the distance does add an attrition factor.
Cavendish, unlike almost all of his sprint rivals, completed the Giro d'Italia in May, losing out on the maglia rossa by a point to Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).
Renshaw, who helped guide Cavendish to much success at the now defunct HTC-Highroad, believes his former teammate's decision to complete the three-week race will act as more of a disadvantage than advantage come July's Tour and Olympic Games double header.
"I think his big goal was to win the points jersey there so he just missed out on that," Renshaw said. "I don't think it was the best choice especially when he wants to win the Olympics. To do two Grand Tours and Ster ZLM Toer in between is a lot of racing so I can't see it being an advantage."
Renshaw is currently at altitude with his wife, Kristina, putting the final touches on his Tour de France preparation ahead of his team debut with Rabobank.
The Tour starts Saturday week with a 6.4km prologue in Liege, Belgium before a string of flat stages for the fast-men. Renshaw is looking to record a career first stage win in France despite a lack of helpers in his team line-up, which is largely based around Dutchman Robert Gesink.
He has finished twice runner-up in a Tour stage to then teammate Cavendish in 2009 and Italian Alessandro Petacchi in 2010.
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