Sergio Henao (Team Sky) has denied that he is racing for his own GC ambitions as well as helping his teammate Chris Froome win yellow at the Tour de France. Henao has been very aggressive in the mountains throughout the first week and has been one of the last riders remaining with Froome towards the finish.
Henao is sitting in eighth place overall just 44 seconds down, equal on time with Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo). On Sunday’s stage 9 to Andorra, he led home a group of riders, including Bardet, Mollema and Joaquim Rodriguez. It appeared that Henao might be racing to conserve his own position in the general classification, but he says that it is all about the yellow jersey and Froome.
“My ambition is to win the Tour and ride into Paris with the yellow jersey on Chris Froome,” Henao said at Team Sky’s rest day press conference in Andorra.
Henao’s attacks have helped to cause many splits in the overall classification. His move on stage 8 was the precursor to Froome’s stage winning attack into Bagneres de Luchon. Further attacks the following day saw several of the GC favourites to get dropped on the climb to Arcalis, paving the way again for Froome to go on the attack.
“It’s going well, and it’s nice to be doing some good work for Chris,” said Henao. “I always want to try and be up there in the final and then towards the finish make a few attacks to force a small selection.”
It is Henao’s fellow Colombian, Nairo Quintana, who noticeably didn’t attack in the opening stint in the mountains. Quintana made sure to follow all the moves and looked relatively comfortable doing so, but he didn’t attack once. During his own rest day press conference, Quintana told the press that due to the inclement weather on the final climb he didn’t feel it was the right time to make his move. Henao says that he was not surprised the Movistar rider decided on holding the wheels rather than having a dig at cracking Froome in the Pyrenees. “I think that is like Nairo, he’s done this in other years,” Henao said. “At the end of the first week we see an attack from Froome, and then he tries in the second. In the third week, I think that there are more climbs that are better suited to him. I think that when we arrive there, we will really see him attack.”
Henao has been key for Froome and Team Sky so far at this year’s Tour de France, but his participation was in doubt as problems with his biological passport arose again this year. In 2014, he spent months on the sidelines when Sky decided to pull him from racing to investigate some anomalies in his passport. Upon his return at that year’s Tour de Suisse, a crash during the time trial recon forced him out of racing again.
This year, the UCI opened up an investigation into those anomalies which meant that the Colombian had to miss the Giro d’Italia. He was cleared and swiftly returned to racing at the Criterium du Dauphine and then made Team Sky’s Tour selection. During that time Henao had done a lot of soul-searching, but he says that he’s in a better place now.
“I’m really content,” he said. “I’m really grateful to the team for always helping me with these problems, my break, my biological passport and for giving me the opportunity to ride the Tour. I am really happy.”
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