Long-time friends Sergio Luis Henao and Rigoberto Uran will again form a dangerous combination for Team Sky at the Vuelta a España with the former feeling confident following his fifth overall placing at the Tour of Poland. In May, the pair did just that as team leader Brad Wiggins' fortunes crumbled at the Giro d'Italia, catapulting Uran to the podium.
Henao admitted in an interview with Biciciclismo that the opening grand tour of the year, the Giro, where he finished 16th on GC, left him feeling quite fatigued and so it was only at Poland that the Colombian made his return to racing. With the Vuelta in mind, Henao is keen to approach the race as fresh as possible, choosing not to take on the Vuelta a Burgos, where he was second overall last season behind Katusha’s Daniel Moreno.
"While in Poland we decided to forego Burgos because I want to get motivated and fresh for the Vuelta," he explained. "I will train in Pamplona and then we will shift to Andorra. The idea is, incidentally, get familiar with some finishes like Angliru which I do not know."
Earlier in the season, Henao won stages at Volta ao Algarve, Pais Vasco – where he was also third overall – and then finished runner-up to Moreno again at Flèche Wallonne.
Ideally, Henao will be looking to improve on his 14th placing at last year’s Vuelta, where stage 17 represented his highest-placed finish with third behind Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) atop the Fuente De.
"To fight for the podium is a dream, and always looked at with respect because it is a big result on your palmares and it’s quite hard to do," Henao said. "I would be satisfied with a stage win and a place in the top five. But mostly I want to perform at a high level and be in contention with the real leaders, and be entertaining. Valverde, Rodriguez, Nibali, Samuel Sanchez ... They are the favorites and would be very happy if I can be with them. Colombia has demonstrated its level, Rigo was second in the Giro and at the Tour Quintana, why not also be on the podium in the Vuelta?"
Following the Vuelta, Henao said he is also looking forward to the UCI Road World Championships which, with its hilly parcours, is set to favour the Colombian team which will field a squad of nine riders.
"For us it is very important to compete on the same terms as Spain or Italy," he explained. "It is historic. The worlds course is very suitable for Colombia, and the type of rider we are. We have a strong and united team and believe that it is a good opportunity. If we work together, we can fight for the championship."