FOR the first time in 12 years, Bathurst professional cyclist Mark Renshaw will be amongst the field when riders from across the globe do battle in the UCI Road World Championships next month.
Despite forging a reputation as the best lead out man in the peloton, Renshaw has not been included in an Australian team for the world titles since 2004.
But when it was announced the battle for supremacy in 2016 would be on the roads of Doha, Qatar, Renshaw knew he was a strong chance of national selection.
He has the best record of any Australian rider in Qatar.
In 2011 he was named the overall winner in the Tour of Qatar on the back of three stage podiums and in 2012 he ranked 13th in the general classification.
That record helped give him the nod as late last week Renshaw was named in the 10 man Australian squad. It will mark his first race in national colours since he placed fifth in the road race at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Australian coach Brad McGee said Renshaw was deserving of his selection.
"The course this year is quite unique, Qatar is not known for it's mountains. It is flat and there will be a lot of wind, it is a completely different type of course to what we've had in recent world championships,” McGee said.
"All those riders who have been chose to go deserve their spot. Mark Renshaw is a proven performer at Qatar and also if you look at his overall record, he has proven himself in Europe.
"It has been a long time coming for Mark to get into this team and me personally, I have been looking forward to it for quite some time.”
Renshaw will not only be a good option to help the likes of Caleb Ewan and Michael Matthews should the race come down to a bunch sprint, but his tactical nous and knowledge of Qatar is a massive asset.
With the strong crosswinds in Qatar capable of tearing apart the peloton, the world champion will not necessarily be decided by a large bunch sprint.
Renshaw and Heinrich Haussler – who has also been on the podium in Qatar – have firsthand knowledge of how to deal with those winds, so the Australians could have other options as the race unfolds.
"On paper it looks like it will be a big bunch sprint, but we are expecting it to be more dynamic than that, especially in the wind .... it can get up to 150 kilometres an hour,” McGee said.
"You need big, strong riders in that wind and there is nothing like the experience that Mark Renshaw brings.”
McGee is well aware of Renshaw’s talents and played a role in helping him launch his road cycling career.
In 2002 the Bathurst talent was part of the NSW Institute of Sport -FDJeux development squad which McGee ran.
Being a member of that squad got Renshaw noticed and he was soon riding in France. McGee is delighted to have the chance to work with him once more.
"In my capacity as national coach I am quite forthright in not showing any bias, everyone in that team deserves it ... but at the same time, I can have a long smile there to see Mark Renshaw in it. I will allow myself that,” McGee said.
The 2016 UCI Road World Championships will run from October 9-16 in Qatar.