Greg Henderson delivered Team Sky's fifth victory of the year at the second stage of Paris-Nice with the help of teammate Geraint Thomas. With the victory, Henderson took over the lead of the points competition at Paris-Nice and the 34-year-old New Zealander will auction the green jersey to raise money for those affected by the recent earthquake in Christchurch. As he wants more than a stage win, Henderson will also target the yellow jersey at the end of stage 3.
"It was quite a nervous day all day," said Henderson, who won stage 1 of Paris-Nice last year. "I stayed out of trouble as much as I could. My last man Geraint Thomas led me out beside the Columbia (HTC-Highroad, ed.) team. He went full with 500 metres to go and took me till 250.
"It might not have been seen on TV but the final straight line was a slight uphill drag. I won the sprint comfortably. I'm very happy to win, I'm very happy for the team. The beauty of Team Sky is the honesty in the team. We're all mates. When we win, we're all wrecked."
Team Sky's directeur sportif Sean Yates was full of praise for Thomas as he stated: "He's almost the best lead-out man in the world."
Henderson was also effusive about Thomas's lead-out ability. "The beauty about G is that he's got an ability to keep you out of the wind and to deliver the sprint. He doesn't have to hide in the wind until the sprint. Coming from the track, he has the ability to push a lot of wind."
The time bonus earned by Henderson for winning stage 2 moved him into second place on general classification, four seconds behind race leader Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM). Regarding the potential of taking the yellow jersey at the end of stage 3, Henderson said: "I'll have a go, absolutely. I'll talk to our directeurs sportifs Sean Yates and Nicolas Portal to see what this climb (the category 2 Côte de Bécoup with 23.5km to go] is like. Hopefully, I'll still be up there for the sprint."
For now, Henderson took the command of the points classification. He'll take this opportunity to do a good deed for his compatriots after the earthquake that affected Christchurch last week. "I have a lot of family and friends who have been victims of the earthquake," he said. "I dedicate today's win to them. I wanted to do something for them, so I'll get my green jersey signed by my teammates and we'll raise some money for the victims."
Henderson added he hopes to make his debut at the Tour de France this year at the age of 35. "It's my absolute goal," he said. "Coming from such a strong team, it's hard to make the line-up. I didn't last year, but I'll put my head in the ring again."
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