Mark Renshaw (HTC-Highroad) could not have been happier when he claimed the first ever overall victory of his career in the Tour of Qatar on Friday, although he admitted he'd not slept well last night he was so nervous.
Best known as Mark Cavendish's lead-out man, in the six-day Middle East race it was the 28-year-old Australian's turn to soak up the applause.
"It's a great stepping stone for me, although the pressure was the worst I've felt for a long time, so bad I could barely sleep last night," Renshaw said afterwards.
"Now I know what guys like Cav have to handle when they're in the lead."
"It's a totally different feeling to racing for yourself than leading him out. I've got job-perfect for Mark, so to win here for myself is something very special."
Renshaw was shadowing key rival Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo) so closely in the last stage he admitted there'd been a moment where he'd unintentionally blocked Cavendish in with about 300 metres to go.
But the HTC-Highroad strategy of letting a break of two go worked well. Renshaw admitted ideally it would have been three in the move ahead to take all the bonus seconds on offer in the intermediate sprints, "but it was good for my confidence to take the third place from the bunch in both of the sprints, too."
Britain's Bradley Wiggins (Sky) said it had been a good week for both him and the team.
"It's worked well, my best Qatar in terms of condition, and for getting involved in the race. I came here race-ready, we're performed really well, [Juan Antonio] Flecha got fourth overall too."
"My next goal on the road will be Paris-Nice. I've been strong every day and I'm pleased."
Renshaw claims overall win in Tour of Qatar
Tour of Qatar 2011: Related links
Tour of Qatar 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
Tour of Qatar 2011: Latest news
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Tour of Qatar 2011: Stage reports
Stage four: Renshaw takes stage and lead
Stage three: Haussler takes control
Stage two: Haussler wins stage two
Stage one: Boonen wins opening road stage and takes lead
Prologue: Boom wins Tour of Qatar opener
Tour of Qatar 2011: Photo galleries
By Graham Watson
Stage four gallery
Stage three gallery
Stage two gallery
Stage one gallery
Prologue photo gallery
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