After claiming five professional wins in 2009 and recently scooping the New Zealand cyclist of the year title, Greg Henderson is aiming even higher for 2010. After moving from Columbia-HTC to Team Sky in the off-season, the Vuelta stage winner is gunning for more success, with his programme centred on the Tour Down Under, Tour de France and World Championships.
Henderson rode for Columbia-HTC for three seasons but rarely had his chance to shine on the big stage as Cavendish and Greipel both emerged as the two leading sprinters. With a change of teams colours and a new set-up Henderson is convinced that his new team can give him the backing he needs.
“Moving was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. It feels like home here already. It’s run by guys who are legends in the sport and their attention to detail is just amazing. It’s almost like a different sport with all the data they have,” Henderson told Cyclingnews.
I see myself as the number one sprinter on the team
“I see myself as the number one sprinter on the team. I was in the shadows at Columbia for a long time with the two fastest sprinters on the planet but I want to have a go now. I delivered them to many wins, now I want to race against them.”
Henderson will kick off his racing campaign at the Tour Down Under – a race he has the potential to shine in. From there he’ll compete in Paris-Nice, before building up to the Tour de France and the Worlds. It’s likely that he’ll miss the Vuelta this year.
With speculation still linking Ben Swift to Team Sky and the recent signing of Wiggins, Henderson also believes that Sky can give him the support at the Tour he needs in order to compete against Columbia’s almost unbeatable leadout train.
“The team aren’t going to turn around and say, ‘we're going to the Tour de France for Greg Henderson.’ That just isn’t going to happen. But there will be two or three guys that can do the job for me and they’re going to be as good as anyone else. The Tour team is going to be built around Wiggins. I know that,” he said. “If we ride the best we can and not focus on results they’ll come naturally. That takes pressure of us as riders and means we can do our jobs well.”
Henderson was recently voted cyclist of the year in his home of New Zealand, and the 33-year-old also sees a promising era of cycling for his home nation. “I won it before for winning a World Cup track medal, but that’s been done now and other athletes have done that. The next step was getting on the European circuit and winning on the highest level there. And this year I won five times.”
“In years to come now, guys are going to be holding green jerseys, yellow jerseys, multiple stages in Grand Tours or Classic wins. New Zealand cycling is moving in that direction. It used to be just Julian Dean in Europe. The talent we’ve got is great to see.”