Retirement did not seem to suit Sergio Henao, who re-emerged to the peloton in a big way with a small team. The Colombian climber finished fourth on stage 1 of the Joe Martin Stage Race riding for the Emanuel Ibarry & 2ndbike Team, based out of Puerto Rico.
It was a hot, windy day in Fayetteville, Arkansas, but it did not matter to Henao. “It is yet to be finished with professional cycling,” Henao said Friday about his retirement, and finding a team to bring him back to competition.
“This is my team in America, [it gives me] joy in a different cycling race. Okay, I'm coming for one week here to enjoy America [Joe Martin Stage Race]. The race was super hard. After this week we travel to New Jersey for [Tour of Somerville],” the Colombian said, not committing to a longer schedule. “I remember the Tour of California, which was a super race. It’s excellent here, I enjoy the different roads.”
Henao raced professionally for 15 years before announcing his retirement in March this year, after looking unsuccessfully for a team to offer a contract after Qhubeka-NextHash dissolved in December. He was on the South African team for just one season, after nine years at the WorldTour level with UAE Team Emirates and Team Sky. During that time he recorded 19 UCI victories, including three WorldTour races.
His name first gained traction in the US when he finished second overall, with a prologue and mountain-stage win, at the 2011 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah racing for the Continental-level Gobernación de Antioquia-Indeportes Antioquia. The next year he jumped to the WorldTour level with Sky Procycling, where he raced for the next seven seasons.
Emanuel Ibarry & 2ndbike Team is an elite squad with riders from Latin America, the Caribbean region and United States. The team raced at Speed Week across the southern US in early May and at the Sunny King Criterium, the first of 10 races on the American Criterium Cup calendar, they placed two riders - Jaime Castaneda and Elvys Reyes - in the top 20. Castaneda joins Henao along with five others for the squad at Joe Martin Stage Race.
“We have had a good start to the race. Great teamwork puts us in 4th position with Sergio Henao and 6th position with Juan Arango. We finished the day motivated by a good start. But we go day by day. Tomorrow we have another hard day at @joemartinstage race,” the team posted to its Instagram feed.
The team will carry Henao on its roster for Tour of Somerville, which will be held on Monday, May 30, the Memorial Day holiday in the US. The team expects to continue racing at events on the American Criterium Cup, but it was not know if Henao would be on those rosters.
The four-day UCI 2.2 Joe Martin Stage continues through Sunday, with races for pro men and women.
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Jackie has been involved in professional sports for more than 30 years in news reporting, sports marketing and public relations. She founded Peloton Sports in 1998, a sports marketing and public relations agency, which managed projects for Tour de Georgia, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and USA Cycling. She also founded Bike Alpharetta Inc, a Georgia non-profit to promote safe cycling. She is proud to have worked in professional baseball for six years - from selling advertising to pulling the tarp for several minor league teams. She has climbed l'Alpe d'Huez three times (not fast). Her favorite road and gravel rides are around horse farms in north Georgia (USA) and around lavender fields in Provence (France), and some mtb rides in Park City, Utah (USA).