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Henderson may not return for 'The Grafton'

New Zealand's former scratch race world champion, Greg Henderson, may not be back to defend his Grafton-Inverell crown. Henderson, who has had a great season for Health Net in the US, took the sprinters' jersey at the Tour de Georgia and has had a host of stage wins on the US National Racing Calendar circuit.

But 'the Grafton', run Sunday in appalling cold and windy conditions, was one of his hardest victories. It was, "Too long and too hard, I didn't enjoy it," Henderson told race-caller Peter Sunderland after his win. Would he be back? "Don't know," was the answer.

Henderson, making his debut at Australia's toughest single-day race, not only had to overcome one of the biggest fields ever assembled for the events 'A-grade' category but a biting north-westerly wind. The Kiwi rode the 228km epic in 7:18:56, almost 80 minutes outside the race record set in 1985. The weather was a decisive factor. "It wasn't a wind, it was a gale," Peter Sunderland said. "It was a big test for all the riders."

Henderson beat Australian under-23 road racing champion Simon Clarke with Matthew Lloyd third in a sprint finish also including Trent Wilson and Victorian Institute of Sport's Richard Moffatt. Trent Wilson was King of the Mountains while Peter Dawson was the Sprint King. See Cyclingnews' report and results for full details of this torrid test in northern NSW.

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