Cycling: Henderson eyes NZ road title

Greg Henderson
Greg Henderson
At 35 years old, Greg Henderson has amassed an impressive array of cycling achievements, but is yet to win a national road title.

The five-time Olympian and Commonwealth Games gold medallist is hoping to finally snare the elusive honour in Christchurch this weekend, where he'll battle some of New Zealand's best, including 2007 and 2008 champion Julian Dean, 2006 and 2011 winner Hayden Roulston and 2010 champion Jack Bauer.

Henderson, currently racing for Lotto-Belisol on the world pro tour, says he realises the challenge ahead over the 12-lap, 183km race but believes he is in winning form.

"The dynamics of the nationals is so different to any other race. By the last lap everyone is usually on their last legs. You are in ones and twos," he said.

"If it was a pro tour race, you can predict what will happen nine times out of 10. But it is a New Zealand bike race and you are racing against some of the good young talent, club riders and trade teams who have all peaked for it as well as some other pros racing as individuals too.

"It is a hard race to control and a hard race to dictate and a hard race to predict."

Melbourne-based Henderson has a rich pedigree in the sport, starting on the track with a world title in the scratch race 10 years ago, a stage win in the Vuelta a Espana in 2009 along with six stage victories on the pro tour.

Now specialising as a lead-out rider, Henderson set up German Andre Greipel for 20 stage wins in 2012, three of them coming in the Tour de France.

The father of two knows what wearing the national jersey would mean to him.

"It would be beautiful to be able to wear that black jersey in Europe. New Zealand is pretty well known now. All of the Kiwi bike riders who come over to Europe are well respected. It would definitely be nice and special to wear the jersey in Europe for sure.

"It's a very prominent jersey too, so if you had the national jersey sitting in front of Greipel, who is winning stages of the Tour de France, I guess it is helping put New Zealand on the map."