Author Topic: 2019 Tour de France - Recalling the last Brussels finish in 2010  (Read 1063 times)


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2019 Tour de France to start in Brussels:
Recalling the last Brussels finish in 2010

With the 2019 Tour de France in Brussels I am keen to recall the last time the tour was there is 2010, especially in-light of Mark Renshaw’s recent announcement of retirement. For Mark Renshaw was in amazing form that day!! and it still remains one of my greatest cycling memories of his career.

Kezza and I both standing on the finish line in Brussels, in the VIP/Media zone only metres from the finish.. watching the big Screen as Mark had a final crack at superstar Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi with 50m togo..
I am yelling “He is gunna win it Darl” … Kezza is already tearing up..
It was just like that typical Aussie scene in the enclosure at Flemington at the finish of the cup.. The problem was this was Europe and our excitement did cause something of a stir for Christian, Eddie and their entourage… as they then glanced at the security guy on the gate, who avoided making eye contact with them.

But hang on - for what happen next in this final dash to the finish line in Brussels was only part of story - for this stage was crazy, crashes and all kinds of twists and turns.

For the full story you have to go back to the previous season, as in 2009 Columbia HTC had assembled the maybe the world’s greatest ever sprint train, with the world’s greatest sprinter on the back of it, with Cav unbeatable in the 2009 Tour, taking 6 stages wins.
So I guess mentally, 2010 was going to be tough for Cav as he felt the pressure to repeat the effort… worth noting expectation can be a very heavy weight on your shoulders. He also had the problem of team changes, loosing riders such as the legendary George Hincapie (who had gone to BMC to help Cadel), then there was a nagging tooth problem….

But the biggy was the world’s greatest leadout man Mark Renshaw had epstein barr virus and was off the bike. The  HTC Columbia sprint-train routine had changed in 2010 and the mental hurdle of expectation was jumping onto Cav’s back in the final couple of hundred metres of his races. In fact the start of 2010 wasn’t going well for the world's leading team.
It was not just the performances in the big events such as Milano-Sanremo and the Tour of Flanders, but coming into May 2010, Cav had only one minor stage win in the Tour of Catalunya. -- It is a tough gig Pro Cycling -- In pro-sport the other teams will not just roll over and accept defeat, they will study the video and change strategy, they will try again and come back with a new plan.

In 2010 HTC Columbia were under attack from beefed-up teams who were hurting from get beaten in 2009.  The battle for control in the final kilometre of a race had gone to dangerous levels with arch rivals Garmin/Transitions and other teams such as Lampre/Farnese, CerveloTestTeam Milram Rabobank.. all wanting a bit of the action, the HTC Columbia train was getting ambushed.

In such a dramatic time you need a cool head, I will never forget Allan Piper calmly explaining to me that Mark’s (Renshaw) recovery is right on track and he and the new HTC Columbia crew will be better that ever for the 2010 Tour..

Hear a segment of that talk here – (Ps I hope all is okay with Allans battle with cancer - a #TrueLegend)

As Allan predicted Mark Renshaw shocked all of us with his recovery way ahead of schedule, and he was back with Cav by the middle of the year. Cav getting a few confidence building stage wins ahead of the 2010 tour de France at Tour of Romandie and the Tour of California.

However back to Brussels - I have to admit, while Kezza and I stood alongside Christian Prudhomme and the lads in the race finish corporate area with a couple of dodgey looking lanyards… I was fully aware that Mark Cavendish desperately needed to win an early stage in the 2010 Tour to get his competition timing and winning habit back on track... However so did the other teams..

I could not believe the aggression in these finishes. There where so many crashes.. I still marvel at the image of Adam Hansen riding to the finish at Brussels that day with so many broken bones – wow it is a hard sport.. if I remember correctly a dog also attacked Ivan Basso during the stage… there is always a dog in the middle of a big barney.. 

In the past I had been guilty of saying “Racing is just a job to these pros”, but that all changed when we stayed at a motel with HTC Columbia at the 2010 tour which they shared with Garmin/Transitions… At breakfast the 2 teams circled each other like a couple of prize fighters at the weight-in. I did noticed that Tyler Farrar and couple of other like Dave Zabriskie seemed a bit more casual about getting the toast… but it did seem like everyone was on a bit of a mission.

The last few kilometres into Brussels was like a gang brawl with not only Garmin enforcers David Millar, Julian Dean, Robbie Hunter with Farrar in toe ambushing HTC Columbia but Lampre (Petacchi) Cervelo (Hushovd) Milram (Ciolek) all there to fight, each with their own Tough Arse Aussie such as Luke Roberts & Brett Lancaster to help them in the blue. Then you had Rabobank’s Freire looking for gaps and of course the Great Houdini Robbie McEwen moving around the pelo leading himself out.

Sadly Cav was one of the first to hit the deck in the major crashes in the final couple of Ks, I remembering thinking when Freire went down “wow this must be rough” as he has super powers when it came to riding in the washing machine.

We lent over the fence as they come into sight.. and yes... Down they all came again.

Emerging from the rumble was an Italian Sprint God, Alessandro Petacchi (with around 20 Giro Stage win to his credit). I remember thinking Wow this is special to see a sprinting superstar in full flight. Well that was until a kid from Bathurst emerged from out behind the big Italian and light-up for the line… That was an amazing memory, because he had been leading out Cav up until that last kilometre and recovered to get clear of his old boss Thor Hushovd and the Great Houdini Robbie McEwen to push Petacchi to the line.

Racing to the 2010 Stage Finish in Brussels - Go Mark!!

Yes he was second, Bugger!!!.

To our surprize more Bathurst riffraff wandered over to our spot at the finish line with Kurt Fearnley and Drew Carter sheepishly walking past the VIPs to chat. I just gave Cannibal Eddie a quick little wave to suggest all was okay as they were with us. We were all disappointed for Mark, and especially for this wife Tina who was still out in the General Admission, standing on tippy toes a couple of kilometres from the finish, trying to catch sight of her husband’s great performance.

Yet all disappointment disappeared once we talked to Mark for he was mainly concerned about Mark Cavendish, for he was a lead-out man, in fact he was the worlds greatest lead-out man and he had a job to do, he needed to get Cav back on the podium as soon as possible. (He was also a bit worried about where we left Tina.)

Click here for Shane Sutton talking about Mark Renshaw as the worlds greatest lead-out man --

Of Course this is only the start of the story of the HTC Columbia Sprint Train at the 2010 Tour de France with big Fabian Cancellara flexing his muscles the next day and calling a truce between all the gladiators on the race into Spa the next day. While I believe one of Mark’s great performances came in the race to Montargis..

More on that soon..

It’s now time the watch the action in the 2019 Brussels Stages… 

Plenty of riders had to walk to the finish that day:

Kurt there Supporting Mark

« Last Edit: July 07, 2019, 07:41:04 AM by MarkW »


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Re: 2019 Tour de France - Recalling to last Brussels finish in 2010
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2019, 11:34:34 PM »
Results Stage 1 – 2019 Tour de France – Brussels

Well that stage went the same way as the last stage to finish at Brussels - with this time the leadout man going one better and winning the stage.
Amazingly as in 2010 the stage 1 favourite Dylan Groenewegen of Team Jumbo-Visma crashed like Mark Cavendish in 2010 and then his Leadout man Mike Teunisse raced for the stage win. This time Teunisse (the leadout man) actually coming past Peter Sagan to take the win, while in 2010 Mark Renshaw had to settle for second behind Alessandro Petacchi

Mark Cavendish rolling home in Brussels 2010
« Last Edit: July 06, 2019, 11:36:39 PM by MarkW »