In a move that will further bolster Mark Cavendish’s leadout train, Omega Pharma-Quick Step announced Thursday that it has signed Mark Renshaw — who got to know Cavendish well when the two were teammates on the now defunct HTC-Highroad squad.
And to help Omega Pharma’s GC hopes, the team signed Colombian climber Rigoberto Urán. Both riders inked deals that run through 2015.
Renshaw played a key role at HTC, serving as Cavendish’s main lieutenant. He helped the Briton win six stages at the 2009 Tour de France, five in 2010, and five in 2011. The stage triumphs spearheaded Cavendish’s green jersey victory in 2011.
Renshaw, however, was removed from the 2010 Tour after stage 11 for headbutting Julian Dean, the leadout rider for Garmin-Transitions. Renshaw was escorting Cavendish to the finish line in a wild sprint and used his head to clear a path.
“Mark is one of the most appreciated riders in his work as a leadout man,” Omega Pharma manager Patrick Lefevere said in a team release. “His arrival is important to improve our potential in the preparation and execution of sprints for Cavendish, whom he already knows quite well.”
The 30-year-old Renshaw, who has ridden for Belkin (formerly known as Rabobank and Blanco) since last year, said he is happy to be reunited with Cavendish.
“It will be great returning to leadout duties fighting for victories with Cav,” he said. “Hopefully we will celebrate many wins with him and the rest of the team.”
Renshaw will be joined by sprinter-turned-leadout-man Alessandro Petacchi, who recently signed a contract with Omega Pharma through 2014. The Italian won 48 grand tour stages during his career that started in 1996 and briefly ended in April. After he retired from Lampre-Merida, Omega Pharma contacted him two days later and asked him to join the squad.
A UCI rule disallowing transfers before August 1 kept Petacchi out of the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France, but he’s now on the team and will race at the Eneco Tour starting August 12.
“With the skills and potential of Renshaw, Petacchi and [Gert] Steegmans, our sprinters will be able to count on a high level lead out man in every race,” Lefevere said.
Urán, 26, is a stellar climber and comes from Sky, for whom he has ridden since 2011. He won the young rider classification at the 2012 Giro d’Italia and at this year’s race, he won the mountainous stage 10 en route to a second-place finish in the GC.
Urán was also the silver medalist in the road race at the London Olympics last summer.
“Rigoberto’s arrival reinforces our team as far as the major tours are concerned,” Lefevere said. “Urán is a top rider and his talent on climbs goes without saying. At the same time his experience and his skills will be important for our young athletes like Michal Kwiatkowski, for example, under a perspective of further growth.”
Urán said he almost signed with Omega Pharma in the early part of his career.
“The first time I came to Europe I was very close to signing with the team but then everything went up in smoke,” he said. “After a few years our paths have crossed again. After the experience with Sky, who I thank for the years spent together, a new chapter in my career is beginning and I can’t wait to get started.”