Greg Henderson has formalised his retirement, bringing down the curtains on a career that started on the track. Henderson's last race as a professional came at the Colorado Classic having made the moved to UnitedHealthcare for the final year of his career.
A four-time Commonwealth Games medallist on the track, including gold in the 2002 points race, Henderson also won the world Scratch Race title in 2004. By the early 2000's, the New Zealander was focusing more on the road having signed for 7 UP-Maxxis. He moved into the top tier of the sport with T-Mobile before stints with Highroad, Team Sky, and Lotto-Soudal. It was at Lotto-Soudal that Henderson announced himself as one of the best lead out men in the business, helping Andre Greipel numerous Grand Tour stage wins.
Henderson will now move into full-time coaching as he announced on his personal website.
"I'm not going to drag this out and go on and on about my cycling career. Instead I'm just going to take the time to thank everyone that made this dream a reality," Henderson wrote. "I would never have thought I would be racing my bike professionally at the highest level in the World for so long. Actually there is no way to predict that and I believe that by ticking boxes each year and striving to be that little bit better every year gave me the drive to keep pushing my level higher and higher.
"I can honestly say I wouldn't have got where I am today without the support of Mum and Dad. Every weekend we had the BMX bikes on the Bike Rack from the age of 5 and we were off racing for the next 11yrs. To have parents that invested that much time into the sport that I loved was instrumental.
So thanks Mum and Dad.
Henderson added that he was forever grateful for the opportunity provided to me to transform into a road rider and enjoy the long career that he has had.
"The next Chapter was basically when I decided I needed to see what this Pro Cycling was all about. I had not even heard of the Tour de France. I was more interested in the BMX worlds which I did at the age or 11 for the first time. For a team to take on an athlete from a country with little or no cycling background is a huge gamble. With these countries there is no in between. Its complete success or complete failure. Jeff Corbett was the guy to first take that gamble with me. Much appreciated," he said.
"I was still lucky enough to combine my new passion...road racing...with my passion for racing the Velodrome and lucky enough to represent New Zealand in 5 Olympic games, 4 Commonwealth Games and I honestly can't remember how many World Championships. The mix was getting harder and harder though, and to turn myself back into a road cyclist after every track campaign was timely and I have to thank the directors of the teams that I rode for that allowed this transformation to occur. Some pretty rough days being track fit and having to race 180km on the road 1wk later."
On the road, Henderson won a stage at the Vuelta a España in 2009 on his Grand Tour debut. He returned to the Spanish three work race twice more in his career and also rode two Giro d'Italia's. Of the Grand Tours, Henderson would enjoy the most success at the Tour de France. While Henderson enjoyed several big wins in his career, he found his niche as a leadout man with the Lotto squad.
"I was a pretty quick sprinter also but never on the level on the road as Greipel Cavendish Kittle. If I was to beat these guys I had to use all my track craft and positioning skills and try start a few bike lengths infront. It didn't happen very often," he said. " So, I quickly realised, if I want to be really good and have longevity in the Sport of Cycling I should focus a lot of energy into this area of my riding. Who better to help than my good friend and beast of a bike rider Andre Greipel. His one chink in his armour was...positioning!! Bingo....lets work together. Thankyou Andre, thankyou Marc Sergeant and thankyou Katie for helping me realise what I was truly one of the best in the World at.
"5 Tour de France later and about 100 wins together....pretty good combo I would safely say."
Having studied a sports science degree in his hometown of Dunedin, Henderson is looking forward to pursuing a new career off the bike.
"This is the End of Professional Racing for Greg Henderson but its the Start for Coach Hendy. I'm super excited with the partnerships I'm developing and the future is going to be fun, demanding and a great learning venture. When I invest my energy and passion into something I am determined to make it something very very successful," he said.