No head butts required.
HTC-Highroad’s Mark Renshaw, known for his aggressive work in the service of Mark Cavendish, took a classy win in Qatar. No elbows or shoulders thrown.
The Australian launched off Daniele Bennati’s wheel (Leopard Trek) and beat the Italian and a hard charging Tom Boonen down the Al Kharaitiyat drag strip.
“I don’t get the opportunity very often,” said Renshaw. “At the start of this week when I was still second on GC, the plan was to try and get a result for Cav. Luckily he’s not on the best form so that gave me an opportunity.”
Bernard Eisel took over the lead-out duties, shutting down late moves by Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank) and Bradley Wiggins (Sky). Cavendish finished back in 59th and will be joining the train at a later date. Oman anyone?
It was Renshaw that handed out the post-win team hugs and victory quotes. “I had the perfect wheel,” Renshaw said. “I was behind Bennati and then I had a bit of a tussle with Boonen.” Tussle? Maybe there was an elbow we missed.
The best lead-out man in the world now sports a leader’s jersey: the gold of the Tour of Qatar, the Races to the Oasis, Le Grand Sand Dune. Revered arab cycling journalist Abdul Al Salaam has invited Renshaw to his home for coffee and Omani Halwa.
While Heinrich Haussler admitted he didn’t have the legs for today’s sprint after his previous two wins, he’s not throwing up the white flag. He’s just six seconds behind Renshaw with one stage to go.
“Tomorrow there’s still a chance as there are still 10 or even 16 seconds up for grabs,” Haussler said. “We’re still going to try and get the yellow jersey back, so hopefully it comes down to a sprint tomorrow.”
The one thing we know about Renshaw: he’s a battler. He’ll have to ride smart in Doha tomorrow and use his head. Not that way, the new way.