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Greg Henderson talks of Champs Elysees disappointment
Jul 24th, 12. Greg Henderson finished 6th on one of the most coveted sprint finishes, the Tour de France finale on the Champs Elysees - but he would much rather have placed lower down the results list.
"I was very very disappointed when we crossed the finish line," he shared.
Cycling is a team sport, and in team sports team goals are bigger than individual goals.
When the only Kiwi in this year's Tour de France talked of his desire to win on the Champs Elysees he did not mean for one moment he wanted to cross the finish line first - he wanted that person to be his Lotto Belisol sprint partner Andre Greipel.
Over the last three weeks Henderson has struggled with external stresses and internal illnesses, but the thought of making it to Paris helped him up and over the gruelling mountain stages.
He wanted to be on the Champs Elysees to help Greipel break Mark Cavendish's three year run of victories.
The Kiwi made it over the mountains, his legs were feeling good for the first time in many days and his mind was ready for the task - but it was not to be.
In the final 3km his team's sprint train, which had been so good earlier in the Tour, faltered for the first time.
Henderson was bitterly disappointed when RoadCycling.co.nz talked to him straight after the Champs Elysees finish - which Cavendish won.
"I really wanted to finish this one off actually, I am really disappointed. I was just holding the wheel in front of me - just frustrating really," he said of his 6th place. Greipel placed 9th.
"With 3km to go we were perfect then it just fell to pieces. I can't explain why. Maybe they got overwhelmed with the final on the Champs Elysees - I'm not sure what happened. A couple of guys did some questionable moves and I'm pretty sure that cost us.
"You've just got to look forward I suppose," he said.
After racing 3,450+km around France, Henderson did not get a flood of relief and satisfaction when he entered Paris knowing he was about to finish his maiden Tour de France - an achievement most cyclists can only dream of and only the world's best can ever achieve.
"I was too focused on the finish to be honest, I don't know if I enjoyed it. But it's beautiful now isn't it - quite emotional obviously when I saw Katie," he said of meeting up with his wife after the finish. "It didn't finish like I wanted it to finish to be honest."
"I had unbelievable legs today, it was like I was riding a track race. I was just in that zone all day, next thing I knew it was three laps to go! We moved up, were on the front ready to go. I was just looking for Greipel, then ..."
"After the Olympics maybe I'll sit down and enjoy it all, but right now ... I just wanted to win so badly here and it didn't go to plan the way it had gone through my head a thousand times.
"The next step is the Olympics though isn't it, I can't really enjoy too much now. I'll do the Olympics, and like I've said before, then I'll sit outside in front of the pool and have a glass of wine and think what a pretty cool month I've had."
Henderson now heads back to his home in Girona, Spain for two days before he goes to London for Saturday's road race, which he is riding with Kiwi teammate Jack Bauer.
He will not get a chance to relax quite yet, he will be out training again today.
"You won't be able to let your body come down. What's five more days - five more days of your life. Keep a lid on your form," he told RoadCycling.co.nz a few days ago.
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