DI DATA CRASH REPORT
Af ter an injur y- hi t 2018, Dimension Data need a change of for tune in order to stay in the Wor ldTour
Dimension Data’s injury-hit 2018 continued well into the off-season when Mark Renshaw fractured his pelvis in a collision with a car while training in early December. A frustrating, defining theme of the squad’s year was the string of injuries that hit riders including Mark Cavendish, Steve Cummings, Ben O’Connor and Bernhard Eisel. The team also had to do without another key support rider, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, for the first half of the year as he recovered from the lingering effects of off-season groin surgery.
Alas, the team’s bad luck still stalked 36-year-old Renshaw as he began preparations for 2019. “I’m not sure if the impact with the car or the ground caused my injuries but it was definitely a scary moment as you now realise it could have been much worse,” he said in the team’s press release about the incident.
“It’s bloody sh*t,” the Australian told Procycling as he convalesced at home a couple of days later. Renshaw also had two prior visits to surgery last year to combat chronic sinusitis that developed at the end of the 2017 season and which he estimated was knocking “10 to 15 per cent” off his performances. After his crash he said: “It’s going to be three months until I can get back into it and do some efforts and train properly.”
This year was supposed to mark a slight change of direction for the lead-out man who has assisted Cavendish in 17 of the Manxman’s 30 Tour wins as team-mate. In 2019, Renshaw was set to deploy his lead-out skills more widely – for the team’s young South African sprinter, Ryan Gibbons, at the Tour Down Under, before switching to assist Giacomo Nizzolo at the Middle Eastern races and the Giro d’Italia. “I was really wanting to have a good start to the year because this year I had a couple of operations on my sinuses and it was going to be full gas from the Tour Down Under until the Giro. The first half of the year was where it was all at; now it’s going to be back-dated a bit.”
He added: “It was pretty motivating for me to change after so many years. Not saying that I needed extra motivation – but it’s really motivating in itself when you get new guys coming on the team.”
Renshaw’s bad luck casts a shadow over the team’s season start. Last year, the
3 MONTHS RENSHAW FACES INJURED
South Africa-registered team was anchored to the bottom of the WorldTour. Ben King took the team’s only WorldTour wins – two stages at the Vuelta - the first WorldTour level wins since the 2017 Tour.
But while the struggle to get results took its toll on team morale, were it to continue into 2019, it could be fatal for the squad. With the WorldTour reforms set to come into play in 2020 in which teams will be relegated and promoted between the WorldTour and ProConti divisions, team manager Douglas Ryder has a job on his hands to drag the team up the rankings. “I don’t want to say that we’re fighting for our survival in 2019, but the fact is we’ll be fighting for our survival,” Ryder said at the pre-season camp in South Africa.
The team has taken steps to diversify the squad. Giacomo Nizzolo, who scored 11 top-three places but just one win in 2018 was brought in to ease pressure on Cavendish. Enrico Gasparotto (36) and Roman Kreuziger (32) arrive to bring grand tour experience and climbing firepower to the squad. And the team’s biggest signing was the 2018 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Amstel Gold Race winner, Michael Valgren, who should boost the team’s chances across the Classics.
However Ryder wants to hit the ground running. “We really want to start well with the Tour Down Under and we plan to send a really good team there because we know if we can get that tumbleweed rolling then hopefully it will roll through the whole year.”
Of course, Renshaw was supposed to be a key part of that plan. “The start of the season is just so important now,” he said. “If you start well in Down Under you can lead the WorldTour, so the points definitely make it very important.”
But if there was a silver lining, Renshaw said his injury was fairly straightforward. “It’s going to be some hard work, don’t get me wrong, but what the doctors have told me is that if I can look after myself and do everything right, the injury shouldn’t pose any problems. I should get back into condition quite fast so at the moment I’ll keep the Giro as an objective.”
Renshaw and the team as a whole will hope that the squad’s misfortune ends with his crash, otherwise the team could find itself struggling to stay in the top flight in 2020.
Renshaw’s 2019 has got to the worst start, as he broke his pelvis in a collision with a carSprinter Nizzolo joins from Trek-Segafredo in a bid to bring in more victories for the team