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Henderson rules in Contres

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Greg Henderson (Sky) wins stage 1

Greg Henderson (Sky) wins stage 1 (Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Greg Henderson (Team Sky) was all smiles on the podium

Greg Henderson (Team Sky) was all smiles on the podium (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Lars Boom (Rabobank) maintained his overall lead.

Lars Boom (Rabobank) maintained his overall lead. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) with Tom Veelers in a short-lived break.

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) with Tom Veelers in a short-lived break. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Lars Boom (Rabobank) celebrates his second day in yellow.

Lars Boom (Rabobank) celebrates his second day in yellow. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alejandro Valverde in the KOM jersey on the move.

Alejandro Valverde in the KOM jersey on the move. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tom Veelers (Skil-Shimano) and Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) put in a brief move.

Tom Veelers (Skil-Shimano) and Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) put in a brief move. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Lars Boom (Rabobank) puts in a big effort in the breakaway.

Lars Boom (Rabobank) puts in a big effort in the breakaway. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The windmills spin along with the riders

The windmills spin along with the riders (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Eparnge) leads the group with overall leader Lars Boom (Rabobank)

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Eparnge) leads the group with overall leader Lars Boom (Rabobank) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The windmills were generating a lot of power on a blustery day in France.

The windmills were generating a lot of power on a blustery day in France. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Greg Henderson (Team Sky) described the opening sprint in Paris-Nice as a “slow motion” finish but there has been nothing slow about his season so far, with the sprinter picking up his third win of the year today in Contres, France.

Today’s result came after a hard day of racing in winds with many crashes and a fifteen-man split in which many of the favourites lost time.

“I took the first win for Team Sky [the Down Under classic in Adelaide preceding the Tour Down Under] but it’s even more beautiful to win for Sky in France. Paris-Nice is such a prestigious race,” Henderson said after the podium ceremony.

“I don’t know what gear I had for the finish, probably 52x12, but it felt so big. I was lucky enough to be in the front. When I saw the move from Caisse d’Epargne and the yellow jersey [Lars Boom] jumping, I fortunately had the legs to go across with 15km to go. I also had the legs to win the sprint.”

Henderson enjoyed his third win for this year. However today’s victory marked his first UCI win - the Bay Crits in Melbourne and the Down Under criterium are not on the international calendar.

The 33-year-old is obviously a pro in form but his progression as a sprinter over the last few years has taken time. He had to wait until his thirties before he started winning at the highest level, after he bagged a stage in the Vuelta last year. Now he knows no objective is too high for him in the world of the sprinters.

The Tour Down Under left him a taste of unfinished business as he came twice second, including on the last day behind his Australian teammate Chris Sutton who was leading out the sprint for him but stayed ahead on the finishing line.

That led Henderson to comment on twitter: “ouch. just been informed if I won 2day I would have been 2nd overall at TDU. Takes a little of the gloss off to be honest.”

In the lead group during today’s stage, the New Zealander had nobody from his team to lead him out. “Fortunately Sean Yates told me the kid from Lampre was quick, so I chose his wheel”, he said in reference to the young Slovenian Grega Bole.