After winning the Reading Classic on Thursday, if there was still any question that Greg Henderson of the Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis had recovered from his fractured femur, he proved emphatically to the hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets of Philadelphia that he was back. After nearly 256 kilometres of racing, Henderson still had the legs in the final 150 meters to come screaming up the left side of Benjamin Franklin Parkway through the finishing straight and narrowly overtake Ivan Dominguez (Toyota-United) to win the Philadelphia International Championship, the final leg of the Commerce Bank Triple Crown. The win gave Health Net Presented by Maxxis consecutive titles in Philadelphia, after winning in 2005 with Chris Wherry.
"I was really hungry to get back on the bike and start racing," Henderson said. He only returned to competition on May 31 at the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, where he won two stages. But he was unsure if all the training during his recovery would pay off over the course of a race more than twice that distance.
But once the sprint was on, Henderson found a lane along the barriers on the left-hand side of the road - a critical move as it positioned him out of the worst of the wind and allowed him to make up several bike lengths on Dominguez in the final 150 meters.
"When I opened it up I was still about four or five bike lengths back," Henderson said. "It was a drag race with Ivan, and I came up the inside. I didn't even get to a wheel. I saw the line, and I could see everyone around me, and I could see myself catching Ivan slowly but surely. Sprinters know on the line who's won it, and I was lucky enough to get by Ivan today."
Despite winning two legs of the Triple Crown and accumulating 160 points, Henderson wasn’t eligible to take home the $10,000 and new Mercury Mariner SUV that went to the rider who accumulated the most points in the three-race series. Unfortunately, he missed the opener in Lancaster, where he won last year as part of the team’s unprecedented sweep of what was know as Wachovia Week. Instead, Sergey Lagutin (Navigators), who finished 6th today, took that honour with 108 points, after podium finishes in both Lancaster and Reading.
Henderson refused to speculate as to whether he could’ve repeated in Lancaster and swept the Triple Crown on his own. "Jeff (Corbett) and I agreed I needed to get in some hard racing, but in a race that didn’t have the pressure of something like Lancaster as my first race back," he said. "Originally, I wasn’t supposed to come for these races, but I knew I was feeling good so I told Jeff it might be a good idea to bring me out and join the team for Reading and Philly."