In a very special Meet the Team, Tour de France champion and Bathurst local, Mark Renshaw, answers a few questions about what being our Ride for Country Kids Ambassador means to him.
Q: What’s your connection with Royal Far West, particularly with our iconic Ride for Country Kids event, which goes from 2-4 May, starting in Dubbo and finishing in Cobar.
A: I was asked to be Ride Ambassador last year, and as that was cancelled due to COVID, I was very happy to be asked again to take on the role of Ride Ambassador this year.
Q: Why did you decide to do this event?
A: Cycling is in my veins, and it’s great to be supporting Royal Far West to help kids in rural and remote areas, particularly when I get to saddle up and join a group of 80 or so likeminded people, all of whom are keen to push themselves to support country kids.
As a Bathurst local and father, I know about the challenges that rural communities can face to access vital developmental and mental health services, and of how Royal Far West’s support can make a positive difference to the lives of many kids and families.
Q: Circling back to your ‘cycling is in my veins’ comment. What do you mean by that?
A: I’ve spent a lot of my life cycling! I grew up in Bathurst, NSW, and my chosen career was ‘cyclist’.
Q: Fabulous! What are some of the highlights of your career:
A: Okay – here are some of my favourites:
-Starting the Tour de France 10 times, the Giro D’Italia 5 times and the La Vuelta Espana 2 times
-Riding professionally between 2004 and 2019 for teams including Française des Jeux, Crédit Agricole, HTC-Highroad, Belkin Pro Cycling, Etixx-Quick-Step and Team Dimension Data
-Winning in the general classification of the 2011 Tour of Qatar and the one-day race Clásica de Almería in 2013
-My 1-2 finish on the final stage of the 2009 Tour de France with my teammate Mark Cavendish
-Being main lead-out man for fellow sprinter Mark Cavendish at HTC-Highroad, Etixx-Quick-Step and Team Dimension Data from 2009-11, and from 2014 until I retired. The lead-out rider’s role is to position and deliver the sprinter in the best possible place to win the race, which requires both riders having a lot of faith in each other in the final hectic moments of a bunch sprint.
-My final race, the 2019 edition of the Tour of Britain, finishing in Manchester
Q: Wow. That’s really impressive! Just a cheeky question – do you think you’ll be able to keep up the pace in our 400+km three-day Ride for Country Kids?
A: I certainly hope so!! I know that the riders are all really keen and many are practicing very hard in the lead up to the event, and the secret ingredient is that everyone is in it to raise funds to support kids in country areas.
Royal Far West said that in the last year there’s been a significant increase in the demand for its services, with 156 children from rural and remote NSW on the waiting list to access the charity’s Paediatric Developmental Program, which supports children with complex developmental and mental health challenges.
The charity relies on funds from donors and supporters from events like the Ride to help fund this program, and says that raising $450,000 on the Ride will fund all of the kids on the waiting list.
I know that together we can raise more than $450,000 so that these 156 kids can access the help they need, when they need it. All funds raised will support the developmental and mental health of country children and their families.
Q: How can people sponsor you?
A: By donating through my sponsorship page.
And if you live in or are visiting Dubbo, Narromine, Warren, Nyngan or Cobar, check out where we’ll be on our website, and come on by and say hello. We’d love to see you. Check out Royal Far West’s Facebook Events page for more information!