Sergio Henao is on the precipice of his cycling career. The Colombian climber is reported to consider retirement after 10 years at the WorldTour level as he awaits a decision from his current team Qhubeka NextHash about continuing operations for 2022, or jump to a new team should an offer materialise. It appeared that Henao was leaning towards retirement, according to reports from Colombian media.
“If this situation continues, I think this will be the end of my professional career. Maybe it's time to move on to a new phase in my life," Henao told Teleantioquia Noticias on Monday
The accomplished Colombian with 13 Grand Tour appearances was one of many riders holding out hope that Qhubeka would secure additional support for the squad to race next season. Earlier this month, the UCI refused a licence for Qhubeka to continue as a WorldTour team in 2022. The team have struggled for financial security for more than a year, but was looking for many options as the only UCI WorldTour team in Africa. The Team Qhubeka development squad announced in October it would continue in 2022 despite continued uncertainty over the higher-level squad.
The Qhubeka team stated on social media after it failed to renew its WorldTour licence, “We remain committed to our purpose of changing lives through bicycles. Thank you to everyone for your continued support and words of encouragement!”
Henao, now 34, had not signed with a new team for 2022, joining teammates such as Domenico Pozzovivo, Dylan Sunderland and Robert Power who were also undecided on next season. His comments to Teleantioquia Noticias indicated he would prefer to stay at his current team, where he was 21st at the Tour de France and was unable to complete the Vuelta a España for the first time in seven trips.
“We are waiting, keeping the faith that suddenly at the last minute a sponsor may come out, someone who wants to support the team and the manager is working hard,” Henao said.
The Colombian joined Qhubeka in 2021 after two years at UAE Team Emirates and seven more at Team Sky. He turned pro with Team Sky and moved to Europe in 2012, having ridden for four years with a Continental team in South America and turning heads at the 2011 Tour of Utah with a second-place overall in the six-day UCI stage race.
In his debut Grand Tour, he finished ninth overall at the 2012 Giro d'Italia. He continued with success in smaller stage races and hilly one-day events, but was a significant help to teammate Chris Froome to overall victory at the 2016 and 2017 Tour de France and the 2018 Giro. On his own palmarès, Henao was third on GC at the 206 Santos Tour Down Under and won the overall at 2017 Paris-Nice.
On the challenging side of his career at Team Sky, Henao was twice sidelined temporarily over biological passport issues related to his status as an 'altitude native'. He also suffered a career-threatening knee injury in 2014.
Among Henao’s teammates from Qhubeka who have found other work include Victor Campenaerts moving to Lotto Soudal, Michael Gogl to Alpecin-Fenix, Dimitri Claeys to Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert, Giacomo Nizzolo to Israel Start-Up Nation, Lukasz Wisniowski to EF Nippo-Education, and most recently Emil Vinjebo going to Continental-level Riwal Cycling Team. Both Fabio Aru and Matteo Pelucchi retired this year.
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