It’s time for the VeloVoices to review how their respective riders to watch for 2013 finished their seasons. I’ve spent the year following the fortunes of three former HTC-Highroad sprinters: 2011 world champion Mark Cavendish, his former lead-out man Mark Renshaw and Argos-Shimano’s John Degenkolb. Here’s a quick overview of how each fared over the last couple of months of the season..
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
- Won three stages at the Tour of Britain.
WorldTour ranking: 29th, 161 pts.
It says everything about how much is expected of Mark Cavendish that a season in which he won seven grand tour stages and notched up 19 wins in total can be regarded as a little disappointing.after he had to give best to Marcel Kittel at the Tour de France.
Having raced a very heavy programme during the first two-thirds of the season, he understandably had a quiet end to the year. Other than the World Championships road race, where he rode on the front of the peloton for the first 100km of what turned into a dismal day for the British team, he turned pedals in anger on the road only at September’s Tour of Britain, where he contested three sprint finishes and won them all.
He finished the season having racked up 98 racing days – only three riders completed more.
He did, however, race on the track for the first time since the 2008 Olympics, competing at the International Belgian Open in Ghent, where he finished second in the scratch race and third in the Madison. Having qualified for the World Cup, the possibility of racing on the track in Rio – and finally earning an Olympic medal, which has thus far eluded him – remains open.
The highlight of Cav’s year, however, came on October 5th, when he married Peta Todd in London. Arguably that was his 20th and biggest win of the season – even if it isn’t officially recognised by the UCI!
Finally, he’s also involved with the BBC’s Sport Relief 2014 charity campaign, filming the promotional video below. I think it’s safe to say he won’t be winning any awards for his acting skills any time soon, but you have to give him credit for sending himself up.
Mark Renshaw (Belkin, formerly Blanco)
- Won one stage at Eneco Tour.
WorldTour ranking: 134th, 16 pts.
At the time of our last update in early August, the news of Renshaw’s signing for Omega Pharma-Quick Step, where he will be reunited with Mark Cavendish, was still fresh in the mind.
On the road, a lacklustre season had also been given a shot in the arm with a second-place finish on stage three of the Tour of Poland. He went one better on the opening stage of the Eneco Tour, slipping off the front of the peloton just as everyone was preparing for the sprint and sneaking away to victory, doubling his win total for the year.
However, that was it as far as noteworthy results went for the Aussie, as he failed to register even a top-40 finish for the rest of the season, disappearing into anonymity at the World Ports Classic, the Tour of Alberta and two one-day races earlier this month.
It has been a forgettable two years at Rabobank/Blanco/Belkin for Renshaw. He had hoped to establish himself as a featured sprinter in his own right, but a lack of results has forced him to play second fiddle to Theo Bos. Having turned 31 on Tuesday, he will settle back into lead-out duties for OPQS at the spearhead of a strengthened train which should be able to challenge Argos-Shimano for supremacy more regularly in 2014.
John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano)
- Won Vattenfall Cyclassics.
- 2nd at Brussels Cycling Classic.
- Won two stages at Tour de l’Eurometropole, 2nd in general classification.
- Won Paris-Bourges.
- Won Paris-Tours.
WorldTour ranking: 41st, 119 pts.
Just as in 2012, John Degenkolb hit his stride in the final part of the season after the Tour de France.
Last year he won five stages at the Vuelta. This year, having started the Giro and finished the Tour, he skipped the final grand tour of the year but nonetheless added five more victories to his Giro win.
After the Tour, Degenkolb used the Eneco Tour to keep the rust away ahead of the sequence of one-day WorldTour races on both sides of the Atlantic. He held off compatriot Andre Greipel to become the first German winner of the Vattenfall Cyclassics since 2001, before a tenth-place finish at GP Ouest France-Plouay. The more hilly Canadian double-header proved a less happy hunting ground, as he finished a distant 48th in Quebec before failing to complete the Montreal race.
He was never expected to feature heavily at the World Championships road race, where he finished nearly five minutes down on winner Rui Costa. But the final two weeks of the season have seen him finish strongly, with two victories at the Tour de l’Eurometropole setting him up to win first Paris-Bourges and then the autumn sprinters’ classic Paris-Tours, where he triumphed in the sprint after earlier being a key figure in a major late attack.
It was a strong end to a season in which he struggled for the most part to escape the shadow of Argos-Shimano teammate Marcel Kittel, who gained 16 victories to his six and emerged as the main rival to Mark Cavendish in big race sprints. Degenkolb will hope to emulate Kittel’s performances in 2014.