Mark Renshaw briefly stepped out of the shadow of HTC-Highroad teammmate Mark Cavendish to win the fifth stage of the Tour of Britain on Thursday.
Rabobank’s Lars Boom held on to the race leader’s jersey after an aggressive 180-kilometer race from Exeter to Exmouth in southwest England.
Despite being a sprinter in his own right Renshaw has spent the past three seasons as Cavendish’s lead-out man for the bunch sprints, and in doing so has served as a key element in many of the Isle of Man rider’s 20 stage wins on the Tour de France.
Renshaw led the peloton through the day’s final turn about 250 meters from the line. With his Cavendish on his wheel, Renshaw powered his way out of the turn and was expecting his teammate to close the deal. Cavendish, however, thought the better of launching his sprint.
“At that point, I figured it was better to get first and second than first and fourth so I waited, let it go a bit,” Cavendish said.
The win comes as needed good news for a team that saw one of the squad – Danish rider Alex Rasmussen – withdraw from the race overnight. The Dane has missed three out-of-competition tests over the past 18 months and an inquiry is pending.
The victory represents the 501st for the team over the course of its four-year existence. Despite an unmatched record among currently active teams, HTC-Highroad will fold at season’s end due to its inability to secure a title sponsor for 2012.
Renshaw’s win may also deliver a message to Australian worlds team selectors who named him only as a reserve rider to a talent-rich squad pegged for next week’s world championships.
Renshaw will race for Rabobank next season, and showed the Dutch squad that he can fight his own battles when he finished ahead of Cavendish, German Robert Forster and Welshman Geraint Thomas in a bunch sprint at Exmouth’s seafront finish.
The Tour of Britain, which finishes Sunday, continues Friday with stage six from Taunton to Wells.
Stage Five, Exeter to Exmouth Brief Result
1. Mark Renshaw (Aus), HTC Highroad, 04:17:38
2. Mark Cavendish (GB), HTC Highroad, st
3. Robert Förster (Ger), UnitedHealthcare, s.t.
4. Geraint Thomas (GB), Sky ProCycling, st
5. Andrew Fenn (GB), AN Post – Sean Kelly, s.t.
6. Mathew Hayman (Aus), Sky ProCycling, st
7. Zak Dempster (Aus), Rapha Condor Sharp, s.t.
8. Stijn Neirynck (Bel), Topsport Vlaanderen, s.t.
9. Daniel Schorn (Aut), Team NetApp, st
10. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita), Leopard Trek, st
Overall General Classification, after Stage Five
1. Lars Boom (Ned), Rabobank, 16:54:29
2. Geraint Thomas (GB), Sky ProCycling, at 0:12
3. Boy Van Poppel (Ned), UnitedHealthcare, at 0:14
4. Daniel Lloyd (GB), Garmin – Cervelo, at 0:16
5. Linus Gerdemann (Ger), Leopard Trek, at 0:17
6. Ian Bibby (GB), Motorpoint, at 0:19
7. Jelle Wallays (Bel), Topsport Vlaanderen), s.t.
8. Stephen Cummings (GB), Sky ProCycling, s.t.
9. Jan-Bert Lindeman (Ned), Vacansoleil – DCM, s.t.
Points Classification, after Stage Five
1. Geraint Thomas (GB), Sky ProCycling, 41pts
2. Mark Cavendish (GB), HTC Highroad, 40pts
3. Lars Boom (Ned), Rabobank, 37pts
4. Mark Renshaw (Aus), HTC Highroad, 29pts
King of the Mountains Classification, after Stage Five
1. Jonathan Tiernan Locke (GB), Rapha Condor Sharp, 54pts
2. Russell Hampton (GB), Sigma Sport – Specialized, 44pts
3. Thomas De Gendt (Bel), Vacansoleil – DCM, 25pts
4. Stephen Cummings (GB), Sky ProCycling, 25pts
5. Linus Gerdemann (Ger), Leopard Trek, 20pts
Sprints Classification, after Stage Five
1. Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel), AN Post – Sean Kelly, 33pts
2. Russell Hampton (GB), Sigma Sport – Specialized, 13pts
3. Andrew Fenn (GB), AN Post – Sean Kelly, 10pts
4. Jack Bauer (NZ), Endura Racing, 9pts
5. Boy Van Poppel (Ned), UnitedHealthcare, 8pts
Best Young Rider
1. Jelle Wallays (Bel), Topsport Vlaanderen
Kristian House (GB), Rapha Condor Sharp