Sergio Henao learning and obtaining results in Ardennes Classics
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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sergio Henao learning and obtaining results in Ardennes Classics

by Kyle Moore at 12:56 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Colombian on Team Sky looking to factor in Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Sergio Henao - Team SkyAfter turning heads in late summer stage races in the United States in 2011, Sergio Henao (Sky Procycling) scored a job riding for one of the biggest WorldTour teams.  And though he has relatively few racing days so far in his first season in the European peloton, Henao is making an impact on his new team in the hilly Spring Classics. 

On Sunday he will start Liège-Bastogne-Liège, likely sharing team leadership duties with Lars Petter Nordhaug if would-be team leader Rigoberto Uran is unable to start after a crash suffered in La Flèche Wallone.

In his first season with Team Sky, the 24-year-old Henao has not been used to excess by his British team.  The Colombian has just thirteen racing days in his legs so far, albeit with the Ardennes Classics providing some of the longest and toughest days the young rider has experienced in his career.

Six of those thirteen days came in the Tour of the Basque Country, where Henao held onto sixth place overall heading in to the final time trial.  He came out of the Pais Vasco with 13th place in the final general classification, and then headed to the Netherlands for the Amstel Gold Race, where he took 21st place.

Henao improved to 14th overall in the Flèche Wallone, coming home in a group eleven seconds behind winner Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha).  Coming in to the final of the Ardennes Classics, Henao commented on his experiences thus far.

“These are long, big, prestigious races with a lot of riders in the peloton,” he told the team website.  “There are some narrow roads and that often leads to tension in the bunch.  It’s the first time I’ve done these Classics and it’s a big learning curve for me, but I think I have adjusted well.  It’s a shame that Lars-Petter crashed at Amstel but it’s been a really good experience, and I’m ready for next year, [when I can] come back even stronger.”

Henao burst onto the scene in the Tour of Utah and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge riding for the Colombian Gobernacion de Antioquia squad.  He won two stages in Utah and climbed with the leaders in both hilly races.  When he crossed over into Europe and the Basque Country, Henao did not miss a step.

“I worked very hard in Colombia before I came over to Europe,” he added.  “At Pais Vasco it felt great to be climbing up there with the favourites, but I was confident in my preparation.  It’s a great race and one that I like, especially with me living in Pamplona now.”

As he continues to be baptized in the Ardennes, Henao admitted that there were some adjustments to make in accordance to the styles of European racing.
“One of the big differences is the speed, especially in the first hour of the race,” he stated.  “There is a lot of attacking and then it tends to calm down in the second hour.  There’s also the way the teams all work together with more complicated tactics.  I raced in America last year against some of the WorldTour teams but not a large amount of them.  This year there are a large number of riders at a good level, all [of whom] are capable of winning the race.
“I’m really happy with how things are going.  I’m racing at the Ardennes at the moment, races which I used to watch on TV back in Colombia.  I’d always hope to one day be a part of them, so to be here racing is very special.  I’m enjoying life in the team and I’m very happy with the program I have coming up.”
Henao expressed his excitement at the prospect of racing Liège-Bastogne-Liège tomorrow.  As of Saturday, the participation of Uran was still in question.  If he is unable to race, Sky Procycling would be missing a key cog in its attack, but it could also open up more opportunities for Henao, should he be able to withstand the race’s distance and difficulty.
“Liège is one of the queen races in the sport and I’m really looking forward to it.  I’m very happy with my form and my preparation and I hope that Rigoberto can recover from his crash at Flèche Wallonne.  If we have a good day, Rigoberto, me, and Lars-Petter could all be up there.  That would be great as it is a very important and famous race, but also a very hard one,” Henao concluded.


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