SAINT-QUENTIN, France (VN) – Kiwi veteran Greg Henderson is making the most of his Tour de France debut at the ripe age of 35.
The Tour rookie has led out Lotto-Belisol teammates André Greipel to two consecutive stage victories at the Tour. For the former trackie and journeyman, a trip to the Tour was a long time coming.
“It’s taken me forever to get to the Tour. I feel like I deserve to be here,” Henderson told VeloNews. “We’ve done perfect lead-outs. It’s huge for us and I am so happy for André.”
Henderson has slotted in as the final man for Greipel in Lotto’s leadout train, which has emerged in the opening days of the Tour as the dominant team in the bunch sprints.
World champion Mark Cavendish (Sky) pipped the German powerhouse in stage 2, but Greipel has gotten it right two days in a row. Lotto was ecstatic with the victories and Henderson couldn’t hold back his enthusiasm.
“I told you we’d smash ‘em!” Henderson yelled to a Lotto teammate at the finish line. “He came up next to me with 20km to go, ‘go smash them, Hendo!’ This win is so good. This is as good as winning myself.”
Just like Tuesday, Greipel and Lotto did not contest the intermediate sprint on Wednesday. Instead, Greipel saved his legs for the finale in Saint-Quentin.
“Sagan’s got a big lead in the green jersey, but if we keep picking up wins, Greipel will be right there; then we can think about challenging for the intermediate sprints,” Henderson said. “Right now, we’re concentrating on our train. It just went perfect for us.”
Henderson is the last man for Greipel, a job that he enjoys after a long career as a track cyclist and a sprinter in his own right. American fans may remember him from his five years spent with the Health Net franchise from 2002-2006, and his wins at the Philadelphia Championship, and the Tours of California and Georgia.
“With 3km to go, everyone’s fighting for Greipel’s wheel. It’s going be a real shit fight back there,” he said. “I have used all of my years of experience on the track and on the road. When you have a big ‘Gorilla’ on your wheel, who pulls 2,000 watts, it’s a little easier.”