Qatar - 11th February, 2011
Exactly one week after Ellen Van Dijk won the women's Tour of Qatar, Mark Renshaw made it an exceptional two out of two for HTC-Highroad when he scooped the overall victory in the same race for the men.
Renshaw made a successful defense of his lead in the 126.5 kilometer final stage from Sealine Beach Resort to Doha Corniche on Friday, to finish ahead of Australia's Heinrich Haussler and Italian Daniele Bennati. Qatar is the first stage race win of Renshaw's career.
"The last day was really a question of staying in the pack and making sure I stayed close to Haussler and at the head of the field," Renshaw said afterwards, "It's great to come here and get the win in Qatar, it's such a hard race and to follow on the win by the women's team makes it even something special."
"It'll lift the team's morale and hopefully we'll be just as successful in the rest of the year as we were last season."
"I've been lucky enough to ride for Australia on the track and in the Olympic Games, but on the road this is the best result I've ever had."
"The last two laps of this stage were a bit of a blur, I was going through riders right and left and just trying to follow Haussler."
"With 500 meters to go I managed to get out of the pack, but with 200 meters to go I knew all I had to do was stay there and win the race."
10th February - RENSHAW WINS STAGE AND MOVES INTO OVERALL LEAD
HTC-Highroad's Mark Renshaw sealed his first victory of the season in stage four of the Tour of Qatar, a win that simultaneously enabled the Australian sprinter to move into the overall lead.
Renshaw's win, the seventh for HTC-Highroad men's team in the 2011 season came in a bunch sprint at the end of the 153.5 kilometre stage four from West Bay Lagoon to Al Kharaitiyat. Second was Italian Daniele Bennati, with Belgian Tom Boonen in third.
Placing second on stage three of the Tour of Qatar, Renshaw said it was good today to get his first win since the Tour of Denmark last year under his belt.
"It was pretty tough going in the first half because there was a dangerous breakaway, the wind made it difficult again today, and I had no idea if we were going to catch them," Renshaw said.
"This win is a huge boost to my morale, ever since I got married [this winter] I've been training really hard, so this win is dedicated to my wife who's had to put up with all of that and who's been very forgiving!"
"I want to thank the team for having confidence in me. I don't get the opportunity very often to race for myself, which is normal when you're racing for the fastest sprinter in the world [Mark Cavendish] so I'm just delighted I could make the most of this opportunity and I'm sure Mark is happy I've got this result."
The Tour of Qatar finishes on Friday with the 126.5 kilometre stage from Sealine Beach Resort to Doha Corniche. HTC-Highroad have already won the women's event this year with Ellen Van Dijk earlier this month, and an overall victory for Renshaw would be an exceptional double for the team.
"It's going to be a really nervous day, there's 16 seconds on offer so we'll have to play things tactically," Renshaw added. "There are three strong teams here, so it's a matter of watching our rivals closely and making sure we don't make any mistakes."
Qatar - 6th February, 2011 - The Tour of Qatar Prologue (ITT) tested the field today with high winds and a challenging course with many turns and even a few cobblestone sections.
Matt Brammeier took 10th as the first HTC-High Road rider across the line at 9 seconds behind 1st place.
"Finished in 12th a good 9sec down," says Mark Renshaw, "Tight and tricky prologue, suited me nice."
A rough day for Mark Cavendish after a crash mid-race that resulted in a bike swap, costing him too much time to remain competitive. Mark Renshaw recounts, "Cav will be ok, he hit the same spot as Tour Down Under but no need for stitches this time."
HTC-Highroad for Men's Tour of Qatar (Feb 6th - 11th): Lars Bak (Den); Matt Brammeier (Irl); Mark Cavendish (GB); Bernhard Eisel (Aut); Jan Ghyselinck (Bel); Patrick Gretsch (Ger); Mark Renshaw (Aus); Gatis Smukulis (Lat).