New Zealand’s Greg Henderson is the third Kiwi to be confirmed as starting the 2016 Tour de France. The announcement was made today by Lotto Soudal, who have named their nine-man squad for the race starting on 2nd July in Mont-Saint-Michel.
Greg Henderson was a late starter at the Tour de France, coming to the race for the first time in 2012. He has started each Tour since then and this is expected to be his final start with the fast man expected to retire at the end of this season. He will join a squad that predictably is devoted to the success of the German powerhouse Andre Greipel.
In 2016 Greipel was a mighty force in the sprint finishes, securing four stage wins and bringing his overall tally up to ten. It was impressive stuff by the 33 year old as he also managed to take that most coveted of stage wins on the Champs Elysées; on the race’s final stage. Sadly though for Greg Henderson he was only able to play a small part in that three-week storm of success.
Last year in stage 3 he crashed on the stage to the Muur de Huy, breaking two ribs and sustaining other injuries. With breathing being a difficulty for the Kiwi he soldiered on but withdrew from the race after stage 6. It was a similar story the year before as Henderson was forced out once again, this time though he was forced out after being right on the front of the race. A roundabout with 30km to go took Henderson off his bike and into hospital where he underwent knee surgery.
He will doubtless be hoping for a change in fortunes in this year’s Tour, and in a sprint contest that is as wide open as ever before, Henderson’s race smarts and obvious sprint prowess will come to the fore for the red train; a train which he often finds himself as last lead out man of with the man known as the Gorilla opting to have his wheel in the final kilometre on several occasions. Henderson joins Kiwi compatriots George Bennett of LottoNL-Jumbo and Shane Archbold of Bora-Argon18 who are both making their debuts at the race.
Manager Marc Sergeant emphasised that the goal is simple. “Our goals are clear,” he said. “We aim for a stage win with André Greipel. There is a lot of competition between the sprinters, but the past twelve months André has proven to still be able to perform on the important moments.”
Their options aren’t limited to just Greipel though with chances set to emerge for Tony Gallopin, Thomas De Gendt and Adam Hansen who starts his 15th consecutive Grand Tour.
The full list of Lotto Soudal riders for the 2016 Tour de France is below:
Thomas De Gendt