Marcel Kittel and Mark Cavendish will clash for the first time this season at the inaugural Dubai Tour that is a big target for the latter’s Omega Pharma-Quick Step team.

Mark Renshaw is currently using the Tour Down Under as preparation for the February race where he will formally reprise his role as Cavendish’s chief pilot. Renshaw famously paired with the Manxman at HTC-Highroad but left his service at the end of the 2011 season to pursue opportunities as a marquee sprinter at incarnations of Belkin.

“We’re taking an important team there with Tony Martin and Cav so with those two guys we’re looking for the overall and for stage wins,” Renshaw told Cycling Weekly before the start of stage three today. “To be honest, it’s pretty important that everyone goes well.

“Here is more preparation for Dubai,” the 31 year old continued. “The Tour Down Under is a WorldTour race, and a good opportunity for points. But personally it’s building for Dubai. It’s a more important race, than here, for me.”

Renshaw traveled 36 hours from Australia to Belgium in December to attend his new team’s first training camp, which was centered more on logistics than specific lead-out work.

“There were a lot of things to set-up this year,” he said. “I’ve changed completely everything that I was riding with last year as far as equipment – pedals, shoes, handlebars. It took a long time to adapt and it was pretty important to go to the training camp to get the right-fitting clothes and everything set-up. It was also good to meet the team.”

Omega Pharma- Quick Step has bolstered its sprint roster with the addition of Renshaw and Alessandro Petacchi ahead of Cavendish’s second year with the squad.

“I think we did three or four sprints the whole camp so it was more a period where guys were building up to racing,” the 31 year old Renshaw said. “I think now we’re just going to have to practice in racing. I don’t see too many opportunities to train together. Dubai will be our first opportunity.”

Twitter: @SophieSmith86 

Related links

Tour Down Under 2014 coverage