Above: Calder Stewart/BikeNZ team riders Greg Henderson and Hayden Roulston joined local competition-winning children for a ride at the ILT Velodrome prior to the start of the 2010 PowerNet Tour of Southland.
Story courtesy of Nathan Burdon, Southland Times
There's a good chance you will see Greg Henderson riding in next year's Tour de France.
Henderson, who will ride with the Calder Stewart Bike NZ combination in the Tour of Southland beginning Monday, hopes he will be on the start line in Le Tour after controversially missing the cut with his British Sky team this year.
The Dunedin-raised rider has one year left on his contract with Sky, but hopes to continue in the team despite the disappointment of missing out on the big show.
"We had a couple of discussions regarding that.
"Obviously the tour didn't work out the way Sky planned so they will have to rethink the model," Henderson said yesterday.
"Obviously they will still support (Bradley) Wiggins for the overall classification but they said to me they will definitely have a sprinter. They can't have all their eggs in one basket. Without really apologising, the good thing was they admitted their mistakes and they'll learn from them," he said.
"It's a wait and see situation. Obviously I need to be in good condition. I just spoke about my programme with my director last week and it's geared around Tour de France and the world championships, so basically from July through to October it's going to be very heavy."
Henderson is not expected to be in vintage form during the six-day Tour of Southland.
He has been on holiday since the world championships, after withdrawing from the Commonwealth Games because of safety and hygiene concerns in Delhi. He hopes to ride his way into some sort of form during the tour.
"That's what I'm planning on. There's days where everyone is going to suffer because they are just long, hard days, but there should be some places where I will effectively lose some time and have an easier day," he said.
"I think if I can get through the first three or four days, the body remembers really easily – I'm clutching at straws here ... it sounds good in theory."
It's been four years since Henderson last rode New Zealand's major stage race, and two or three since he last came home.
When he's not racing he is based in Australia with his former world champion wife Katie Mactier, who yesterday announced her comeback to track cycling. Henderson said he had looked forward to his homecoming.
"Even just flying into New Zealand, because I haven't been back for two or three years with family coming over to Aussie, was pretty cool. I'm looking forward to [the tour]."
Henderson believes New Zealand cycling has continued to improve while he has been based overseas.
New Zealand riders were developing a strong reputation in Europe and the professional pathway was becoming easier as a result. "We've got a good programme in place now, especially with the track.
"There's more guys coming over to Europe, branching out from the US and getting that chance in Europe. I think it will just continue to grow because now we have good bike riders at Pro Tour level and New Zealanders are known as reliable bike riders," he said. "We pack up and go to Europe, we have to succeed, because if we don't we have to come home. If your are European you go back to your mum's for dinner. A lot of people are starting to realise that the Kiwis that are there, they mean business."
For The Southland Times' comprehensive coverage of the Tour of Southland, and past Southland tours online, go to their dedicated cycling page.
VIDEO :: Rolly and Hendy Ride the ILT Velodrome