Mark Renshaw has a been a professional in Europe since 2003 but he has finally put his name in the headlines by winning the opening stage of the Tour Down Under.
The 25-year-old Renshaw has been on form in Australia in recent weeks, winning the Jayco Criterium series, but taking his first ProTour win lifts him to another level and gives Australia yet another classy sprinter
Short and powerful, Renshaw is an excellent track rider and used his form and speed to win on the slightly uphill finish in Angaston.
A break of three riders after 40 kilometres characterized the 129km stage but they were pulled back by Rabobank and Caisse d?Epargne teams with three kilometers to go to set up the fast finish.
Rabobank were again trying to set up Graeme Brown but again their work was worth little as Renshaw started the sprint early as others hesitated and held on all the way to the line. Spain?s Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Cassie d’Epargne) took with Brown again forced to explain to his Rabobank team mates what went wrong.
Allan Davis (Unisa) was fourth, with Stuart O?Grady (CSC) showing some form in sixth, as he recovers from his terrible crash in last year?s Tour de France.
RENSHAW?S BIGGEST WINS
stage, Tour of the Med 2006
Tro-Bro Léon 2006
Down Under Classic 2007
stage, Tour of Picardie 2007
“To win here today it’s a phenomenal feeling. I’ve been chasing this first ProTour victory for four years; to do it here in Australia is sensational,” Renshaw told Australian newspaper The Age.
“At 300 to go they kind of split at the front and I decided I had to go early because of the split, so I went with 200 to go. I didn’t know who was behind me or who was there. At 100 metres to go I didn’t think I was going to get there because I went so early.?
Renshaw pulled on the race leader?s jersey on the podium and will wear it during Wednesday?s 148km second stage between Stirling and Hahndorf in the Adelaide hills.
1. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Crédit Agricole 129km in 3-13-33
2. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
3. Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank
4. Allan Davis (Aus) Unisa-Australia
5. Jan Robert Forster (Ger) Gerolsteiner
6. Stuart O?Grady (Aus) Team CSC
7. Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank
8. André Greipel (Ger) Team High Road
9. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) Ag2R-La Mondiale
10. Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) Liquigas
98. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Crédit Agricole all same time