Mark Cavendish’s re-tooled sprint train races for the first time tomorrow in Dubai. After a bumpy debut last year, the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team put the pieces in place for success.
Sports director David Bramati told Cycling Weekly: “We’ve built up the team and we will see some impressive sprint wins when we have our men all lined up.”
Cavendish already began his season in the Tour de San Luis last month. He went there with Alessandro Petacchi, who had to abandon in the first stage due to stomach pains. Regardless, Cavendish and the team worked for Tom Boonen.
In the Dubai Tour, the train will pull for Cavendish. In addition to Petacchi, he will have his former HTC lead-out Mark Renshaw towing him to the line.
Renshaw helped Cavendish to the majority of his Tour de France stage wins before team HTC disbanded and he joined Rabobank. He is a welcomed edition. Cavendish and Omega Pharma suffered at times last spring, most notability in Belgium’s Scheldeprijs one-day race on April 3.
“There were some problems. He wanted to win Scheldeprijs and he was on his own in the final. To lose, just missing out by a small amount, hurts,” said Bramati.
“We had men to lead him out but they’d never raced together, they’d only trained at the camps in December and January, and that’s something else compared to making it work in the middle of a group sprint.”
The team admitted last year that it lacked the training and men to pull the world’s top sprinter to wins. It re-tooled the train and hired Petacchi mid-season and Renshaw for 2014. Now it only needs to order its train.
“We haven’t decided yet if it’ll be Renshaw or Petacchi pulling Mark,” Bramati said. “We will decide based on the stage or race, usually when the three are racing together we are going decide on the best lead-out, Renshaw or Petacchi.”
The Dubai Tour starts tomorrow (Wednesday, February 5) and runs for four days, featuring three possible sprint finishes. Afterwards, Bramati said that Cavendish will race the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal.
Renshaw preparing to support Cavendish in Dubai