Henderson speaks about Greipel’s improvements and team’s growing morale
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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Henderson speaks about Greipel’s improvements and team’s growing morale

by Shane Stokes at 6:58 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
 
Kiwi determined to have good season with Lotto Belisol and to make Tour debut

Greg HendersonAlthough the Tour of Qatar has interrupted things due to the fever which prevented Andre Greipel from starting the race, the Lotto Belisol team hit the ground running in 2012 with a superb start. Greipel won the Down Under Classic and then went on to take three stages in the main event, the Santos Tour Down Under.

It was revealed beforehand that the big German had hit a new power output mark in training, topping 1900 watts, and he also appeared to some to be smoother and more aerodynamic than before when sprinting. The latter aspect is something which has served Mark Cavendish very well during his career, particularly as wind resistance snowballs the faster you go. Greipel’s chief leadout man Greg Henderson has confirmed that this aspect is something which the German and the team have been thinking about in recent weeks.

“I can't talk too much about what Andre and I have discussed, but safe to say 'he didn't hibernate over the winter'. We talked about his power. His top speed. And of course... How to get more speed, or FreeSpeed as I call it,” he told VeloNation. “To go fast you need power. He has boat loads of that. Secondly you have to push against the wind. If you can push against less wind, then you can go faster.

“We are lucky with out Ridley Fast bikes that have an elevated BB and lower stem, which automatically drops your front end.”

For the team, the good start put it on a roll. “As you can imagine directly after the first crit, morale was very high,” he said, “and it snowballed during the week. It was a good solid start to the year. There’s a good bunch of guys enjoying working together, and Lotto-Belisol will be like that all year.”

Greipel has been one of the world’s fastest sprinters for several years. His first season away from the HTC Highroad setup was a little quieter in terms of frequency of wins, although taking a stage victory in his first Tour de France plus third in the world road race championships were strong additions to his palmares. With a better leadout train this season plus a strong and experienced leadout man in Henderson, he’ll be hoping for his best season yet.

Andre GreipelMissing Qatar is a slight setback, but nothing too serious. He’ll be back in the Tour of Oman and will have a chance to measure himself up against his rivals there. Many are keen to see how Greipel plus the Lotto Belisol train will measure up against Cavendish and his new Sky backup; Henderson’s looking forward to that too, but stresses that there’s others who must also be reckoned with.

“Cav vs Andre will be good, but remember it's not just the Cav ‘n Andre show,” he said. “While we are all taking notice of these two, next thing someone else piss bowls both of them. It can happen…it's cycling. But as long as we develop as a team and keep building trust and confidence in each others’ ability in the leadout, then we will also get better and better at it. Then comes the victories, against anyone - Cav included.”

Henderson has a chance to aim for his own success in Qatar, but told VeloNation before the race that he was feeling drained from the travelling, flying from Australia to Europe for the team presentation and then over to Qatar again. He said he would deliberately hold back for the first four days in order to avoid getting run down, then perhaps go for the sprint on the final day. He’s got a bigger picture in mind, wanting to get into shape for the Classics and then build up for the biggest race in cycling.

Although he’s 35 years of age, he hasn’t yet ridden the Tour de France. The 2011 Paris-Nice and Tour of California stage winner wants that to change this year. “The goal for me personally is to make the Tour team,” he said, a target that is reinforced by not being selected by Sky Procycling in 2010 and 2011. “I have had a couple of 'close' calls in the last two years that left me and my family and friends very upset. So that is definitely a goal. I also want to be in good condition to help Andre or any of the other leaders in this team.

“Then one day if they ask if I want to have a kick to line, sure - why not? I can sprint okay too on my day. I'm just looking forward to racing my bike again and that has started to happen with Lotto.”

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