Greg Henderson gears up for France's big one

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 28/06/2014
greg henderson
Getty
NASTY INJURY: Kiwi cyclist Greg Henderson is expected to be fit in time for the Commonwealth Games despite crashing out of the Tour de France.

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Greg Henderson is in the final preparation phase for his third Tour de France.

The only New Zealand rider in this year's Grand Boucle, Henderson will be a key part of the sprint train which fires German Andre Greipel at the finishing line for Lotto-Belisol.

The pressure will be on from the start amongst the sprinters, with the opening 190km stage on July 5 from Leeds to Harrogate expected to end in a bunch sprint.

"I'm still a little low key at the moment [about] the Tour de France," Henderson said.

"I have a few key sessions I need to do, then I'll know it's race time."

Professional bike riders weave a treacherous course between under- and overtraining, something the 37-year-old knows well.

"[It's] important to have the rest and training mixture perfect for a three-week race."

Henderson will compete in his third straight tour after a shift from Team Sky to the Belgium-based Lotto-Belisol where he has combined superbly with Greipel, who will want to add to his five Tour de France stage victories.

Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel will be amongst Greipel's main rivals in the furious sprint climaxes.

Henderson had a brief spat with Cavendish this week after reading a tweet questioning his abilities as a bike rider and a father.

The pair later patched things up after Cavendish convinced Henderson the message had come from a fake Twitter account.

It is rare that Henderson gets a chance to contend for a stage win himself, but he did get an opportunity at the recent Ster ZLM Toer in the Netherlands and he made no mistake, winning the second stage of the UCI race to show how good his legs are at the moment.

The first week of the Tour de France will offer the best chances for the sprinters this year, with the climbers coming into their own once the race crosses the English Channel and heads into the mountains.

"Obviously stage one is a chance for the yellow jersey for us, so I'm definitely excited for that," Henderson said.

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- The Southland Times

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