Lotto Belisol’s Greg Henderson will lead a youthful New Zealand National Team at the upcoming Jayco Herald Sun Tour. Henderson will be using the four-day race to gauge his form before returning to his homeland for the New Zealand National Championships where he will look to secure another road title. "Hendy" will then fly back to the scorching hot conditions of Adelaide city for the Santos Tour Down Under.
Henderson has been a critical element for Lotto Belisol in 2012, sacrificing his own chances to form part of the powerful lead-out train for the team’s star sprinter André Greipel. The big German Greipel won three stages at this year’s Tour de France with Henderson one of the key ingredients to such a successful grand tour.
"Melbourne is my second home town and when I race around here I get as many "Hendys" called out as anywhere else in the world. I have a fairly big fan base here now so I feel like it is home and I enjoy racing in Melbourne," said Henderson.
"Of course the Herald Sun Tour has such a huge prestige. It has been going for so many years. It has been on and off of late, and it is a bit shorter which is unfortunate, but it is a very historic race.
"I will get some good legs out of it. I won't be firing on all eight cylinders but it will put me in good stead with a week after that the nationals and then I will be in good nick to lead out the big German in the Tour Down Under which is the first big goal of the season.
"It's awesome that BikeNZ and the organisers have made it happen. It will be fun catching up. I don't get to race a lot with the Kiwi boys. It will be fairly relaxed and we will have a good time and that's usually how good results come."
The 36-year-old Henderson is the elder statesmen on the youthful BikeNZ team with 20-year-old Josh Atkins - winner of last year’s Tour of Southland - the youngest on the team. Atkins will join the Omega Pharma-QuickStep Development team in 2013.
Wesley Gough, 24 was part of the bronze medal-winning team pursuit squad at the London Games and has won bronze at the Beijing Games and past world championships on the track.
James Oram is the team’s youngest rider at just 19-years-old and will enter his second season with the Bontrager Livestrong under-23 team while Tom Scully has completed a stagiare role with Garmin-Sharp this year. Scully also finished third in the U-23 Paris-Roubaix this season.
Mike Northey took one of his biggest victories to date at the end of season Tour or Southland when he won the overall classification. Northey took out the prestigious title flanked by his Node4 Subaru team from the UK.
The Jayco Herald Sun Tour kick off in Williamstown with a 4.8km individual time trial on January 3.