Sergio Henao set to make Tour de France debut in 2014
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Monday, December 09, 2013

Sergio Henao set to make Tour de France debut in 2014

by Ben Atkins at 5:48 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Colombian will support Froome’s title defence after two years at Giro and Vuelta

sergio henaoSergio Henao (Team Sky) is set to make his debut in the Tour de France in 2014, the Colombian has announced on his return home to take his winter break. The 25-year-old - who will celebrate his 26th birthday tomorrow - has ridden the last two editions of both the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España, with a high of ninth in the 2012 Giro, and would likely step in to replace compatriot Rigoberto Urán in the defence of Chris Froome’s Tour crown.

Having attended Team Sky’s first training camp, preparing for the 2014 season, Henao has returned to his native Colombia, where he will remain until the new year.

"I was in Mallorca until Saturday, just six days, and will not return until January 15,” Henao confirmed. “We did the basics for the organisation of the team next season; it was for meeting everyone, collecting and testing the new equipment, define the race calendar…

"The intention that I will be at the Tour de France,” he added. “It’s what we want and what we think. I’ll start racing in Mallorca and then I’m scheduled to do the Tour of Oman and then similar to last year's calendar; Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour of the Basque Country and the Ardennes [Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège - ed].

“After a rest, the riders for the Tour will train in Tenerife before returning at the Dauphiné.”

Henao’s two seasons at Team Sky has seen him finish 9th and 16th in the Giro, and 14th and 28th at the Vuelta, and he now feels ready to start the biggest race in the sport.

“After riding the Giro and the Vuelta I wanted to contest the Tour,” he explained. “It's the biggest race and I hope to give Froome a really high level of support. In this team there is always a lot of pressure, more so after winning the Tour de France the past two years. The goal is to win it again, while all the other teams will want to beat us.”

The Colombian is under no illusions as to what his role will be during the race.

“My goal will be to be near Froome,” he said.

While he will be expected to give his all for a Froome victory at the Tour, he will be given the chance to race for himself at other times.

"My opportunities will be in races like the Basque Country and the Classics,” he said. “This team always has options. I have been given a vote of confidence and that is something that motivates me, so I can’t wait to start 2014.

“It’s true that I wasn’t at the level I wanted to in the second half of last season,” he added. “It was important to get the team's confidence and everything is a learning experience for me. Don’t forget that it was only my second year in Europe.”

To improve on his two seasons to date, Henao knows what he wants in 2014.

“To have good health and luck to to be at my best to aim for the big races,” he said. “I dream of winning a Monument. All the Ardennes Classic races are good for me, but the one that strikes me most is Liège.”

The big change for Henao in 2014, however, will be the departure of Urán, who will be aiming for the Tour himself at Omega Pharma-Quick Step. Although Henao’s younger brother Sebastian will be joining him at Team Sky, he will find it strange to have his compatriot and friend riding for the opposition.

"I'll miss him as he’s more than a roommate but a good friend and always gave joy and harmony to the team,” said Henao. “He has a good role at Omega and we will now each defend our colours. We will be rivals, which will be strange for me.”

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