Henderson crash a worry for road race team
DAVID LONG AND NATHAN BURDON
What looked like being one of New Zealand's strongest-ever road race teams for the Commonwealth Games could be anything but that after Greg Henderson crashed out of the Tour de France yesterday.
The Dunedin cyclist said his knee ''exploded'' when he crashed on stage four of the race, from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Lille, and says he won't know until today if he'll be able to go to Glasgow.
''If I'm off the bike for more than two weeks I'll probably have to pull the pin on the Commonwealth Games,'' Henderson told Fairfax Media.
''But if it's a week to 10 days then there is still a good chance I can do it, because at the moment I'm in really good condition.
''It's a different story if you injure yourself and you're unfit, but obviously I'm at the peak of my fitness. So I'll know more tomorrow, I'll make that call then.''
George Bennett, Hayden Roulston and James Oram have already withdrawn from the team and the loss of Henderson would further damage New Zealand's chances of getting a medal, with Jack Bauer and Jesse Sergent being the best hopes.
Mike Northey, who rides for the small UK-based Madison-Genesis team, was added to the squad this week. Dion Smith is the only other rider accredited for the Commonwealth Games, and so would be the next cab off the rank as a replacement.
However, Smith's availability could be in doubt as he's set to ride the Tour of Utah with a chance of gaining a professional contract. This would mean Bike NZ would have to look at riders from the track programme, such as Patrick Bevin, Tom Scully, Shane Archbold or even Marc Ryan.
The team was closed off on Tuesday so Bike NZ would have to jump through hoops now to get anyone else accredited, but another option is to use Patrick Bevin from the track squad as the road team's sprinter.
The course in Glasgow will be a demanding one and, according to Bike NZ high-performance manager Mark Elliott, it may not finish in a mass sprint.
''It's a tough course, certainly not an easy course,'' he said.
''There's a lot of corners, a lot of stop-start, multi-lap with little power climbs and it will be a war of attrition.''
The cut on Henderson's right knee in the crash was 12 centimetres long and he had an operation in Herentals to repair the damage.
At the time of the accident, Henderson was up the front of the peloton helping to chase down Thomas Voeckler from an early break.
''The problem was that it wasn't actually a bad crash,'' Henderson said.
''It was just that I landed on my knee I had surgery on not long ago, so the scar tissue was still weak.
''The knee just exploded and ripped really badly. I had to hold it together while I was lying on the ground and they couldn't keep it together.
''I got in the ambulance and they said they'd just take me to hospital because it obviously needs some surgery.''
Thankfully for Henderson, at this point it looks like there is no serious damage to his knee but it could take a while to come right.
''I got an x-ray and it showed there was no fracture, so that's one thing ticked off,'' Henderson said.