The Colombian has gone from strength to strength since coming back from a career-threatening knee injury that derailed his 2014 season and, in his first Grand Tour since the 2013 Vuelta, is keen to be Froome’s right-hand man. However, he’s also ready to take on responsibility should the Brit show signs of post-Tour fatigue.
“I want to be as close as possible to Froome. He’s in good shape, he’s recovered well from the Tour and for me it’s about giving as much as I can for the team, and helping him to win the Vuelta," said Henao, according to Biciciclismo.
"The team orders are not to lose time. If Froome falters, Mikel [Nieve] or [Nicolas] Roche are very good if he finds himself in trouble. The responsibility falls on us all.”
Henao avoided the mass pile-up on the first road stage of the race on Sunday but did suffer a crash of his own soon after. He came down on a slippery surface and suffered a minor gluteus injury, losing 20 seconds or so to Froome and the other main GC contenders on the final climb to Caminito del Rey.
“The road was very slippery and my bike went from under me," he said. "In truth it was a strange one because before I knew it I was on the ground. The climb was uncomfortable, it’s uncomfortable when I sit down, when sleeping, but there’s no serious problem."
After what was an extremely trying year in 2014, Henao is just glad to be back on the bike and able to explore his potential once again, as he explained in a recent interview with Cyclingnews at the Tour de Pologne.
The 27-year-old was temporarily suspended and later cleared by Sky over questionable blood values and that lay-off was followed almost immediately by the crash at the Tour de Suisse which left him with a shattered kneecap. He has made a remarkable return this year, with second overall at the Vuleta al País Vasco and third at the Tour of California preceding a first win since the comeback in the mountains of Poland.
“I have raced and done well in week-long stage races like the Tour de Suisse. Now I’m back in a three-week race, I’m taking it day by day and I hope to do well," said Henao.
“I was talking with my girlfriend about how life changes. A year ago I was sat on the sofa at home watching the Vuelta with a broken leg in the middle of recovery, and now I’m here back in the middle of the action.”