A TIME bonus, an intermediate sprint point and a top 10 finish – it was a solid opening to the Tour of California for Mark Renshaw and his Dimension Data team on Sunday.
In what is the second tour for the Bathurst rider since having surgery to rectify a sinus issue, the mission for Renshaw over the seven stages in California is to help set up stage wins. In the main he will be doing it for sprinter Mark Cavendish.
While he has 10 prior stage wins in the Tour of California to his credit, Cavendish is intent on adding to that tally after the start to his 2018 season has been impacted by injuries due to crashes in the Abu Dhabi Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo.
“We’re here with a group of guys that can go well across all stages so we’re determined to be successful,” Cavendish said.
“’m not here just to mill around, you only get better by trying to get involved so I’ll be doing that on sprint days and we’ll be looking at being successful as a team.”
The opening stage was a 134.5 kilometre leg at Long Beach, which included 12 circuits of a course along the water front.
It was Quick Step’s Fernando Gaviria who took the honours in a bunch sprint to the finish after three hours, two minutes and 32 seconds. Cavendish ended up 10th while Renshaw crossed the line 57 seconds later.
“It was a relatively easy stage today and as expected, it came down to a bunch sprint. We tried to get Mark Cavendish into the best position possible which was quite difficult there in the run-in with a lot of teams – riders and lead outs here – so he lost me a little bit there with 1.5kms to go,” Renshaw said.
“He managed to find a couple of wheels there and just scraped inside the top 10.
“It gives us something to work on. The legs felt good and I think now we can just work on making sure we get in a better position for a better sprint.”
However, as Cavendish picked up third in the first intermediate sprint point – only the two-man breakaway ranking ahead of him – he earned a time bonus which had him sixth on the general classification.