Mark Renshaw laments the fatigue that is starting to set in his body after racing eight days in the Giro d'Italia and with a stage win as elusive as ever.
But as the 3,405km Giro starts to head back north on Monday after reaching its most southern destination in this year's race on Sunday's stage eight finish in Lago Laceno, the NSW sprinter still has the motivation to give two remaining opportunities before the major mountains arrive a serious tilt.
Renshaw (Rabobank) also hopes that the other sprinters still in the Giro also feel the accumulative fatigue that is setting in to his body, and that his streets smarts as a racer can make the difference between a place and win, starting Monday with the 166km ninth stage from San Girorgio del Sannio to Frosinone that should see sprinters like him, British flyer Mark Cavendish (Sky) and Australian Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) return to the fray.
Normally, Renshaw would not be feeling as tired as he is just eight days into a grand tour, but then normally he would not have raced a lead-in event such as the Tour of Turkey so close to it either. It was good that he did though, because it led to him claiming his first for his new team of the season.
"To be honest, I am feeling a little tired after eight days of racing in Turkey and only a week in between. It's already going downhill before its going up," Renshaw said. "But I'm recovering well and feel well. So I still think I'm in with a shout. There are a few sprinters who have gone home already - Thor Hushovd and Tyler Farrar. Mark Cavendish is hard to beat, but I think we have a good team here and if all goes to plan we can have a crack."
Renshaw so far has a best result of fourth and sixth place to his name in this year's Giro that on Sunday saw Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) defend the pink jersey - or maglia rosa - in the 229km eighth stage from Sulmona to Lago Laceno won by Italian Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago-CSF) in an attack on the group of favourites as it climbed the 9.9km climb to a flat 4km lakeside stretch to the finish. Pozzovivo won by 23 seconds from Spaniard Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Movistar) and 27 seconds from a 22-strong group led by Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and including Hesjedal in 11th. Hesjedal leads overall by nine seconds over Rodriguez and 15 seconds on Italian Paolo Tiralongo (Astana).
However, Renshaw is poised to give Monday's 166km ninth stage from to Frosinone a real shake, and if that fails he has pencilled on Wednesday's 255km 11th stage from Assisi to Montecatini Terme as another stage that could well suit him. After that the pickings could be slim.
Renshaw is at the Giro in search of a second season win, but knows that against his former teammate Cavendish, that that may be hard to achieve.
"It's always tactical. He is too fast. Physically he is better than anyone," Renshaw said of Cavendish. "He is hard to beat, unless he crashes. He crashed [on stage two] the day Goss won. He is going really good, he has been since Turkey. He won a good stage. His team also perfected it for him."
- Rupert Guinness is covering the Giro d'Italia courtesy of Eurosport. All stages will be covered live by Eurosport. Monday's stage 9 live coverage on Eurosport (Foxtel Ch 511) starts at 10.45pm (AEST) Check programs.
The Giro d'Italia (May 5-27)
- Distance: 3,504km
- Monday: Stage 9 - San Giorgio del Sannio - Frosinone, 178km
- Type of stage: Sprinters stage
- Main difficulty: A 2km long decent with 5km to go, then a technical finish with a right and left turn in last 500m
- How to watch: TV - Live on Eurosport (Ch 511), Monday from 10.45pm (AEST). Check schedule.