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“You always come with expectations and suddenly you fall so fast, this time on the second day, because of a mistake. I still have my moral and I’m regaining confidence, but suddenly, in Hazallana, I was way off the mark. It&rsqu...

Photo: Sirotti






06.09.2013 @ 12:03 Posted by Jesper Ralbjerg

As the Vuelta a España approaches its second weekend, which features some seriously steep mountains in the Pyrenees, Sergio Luis Henao (Team Sky) is far from the top honours. The Colombian rider was 27th at 10’32” from race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) after the time trial in Tarazona on Wednesday.


The truth is that Henao’s current position is a far cry from what was expected of him, but in an interview with, the diminutive Colombian refused to throw in the towel and spoke of the current Vuelta and his leadership in the Sky team as a learning experience.


Before the start of the Tour of Spain, Henao’s goal was to fight for a place in the top five, maybe even the podium, but those aspirations appear to have crumbled.


Asked to assess his current situation, Henao said it all came down to the events of the second stage.


“You always come with expectations and suddenly you fall so fast, this time on the second day, because of a mistake. I still have my moral and I’m regaining confidence, but suddenly, in Hazallana, I was way off the mark. It’s tough, but that’s cycling for you.”


Asked about what happened on the second day atop the Mount Groba, Henao explained:


“The climb was not really trying, and I had high expectations but in Granada, in Hazallana, I simply wasn’t up to it, quite frankly.”


Despite his current deficit to Nibali, Henao takes comfort from the fact that the road to Madrid is still a long one.


“The Vuelta is very tough in the third week,” he said. “The stages on Saturday, Sunday and Monday are very hard, especially the Gallina ascent and the arrival in France. This Vuelta can take an unexpected turn because there are riders who are very strong and still have a chance of playing a significant role in the GC because of the undulating stages ahead even though they seem out of contention at the moment. Evidently, I aspire to be in that fight. I was given the captaincy of the team along with Rigoberto Uran and we must continue to assume our roles.”


Quizzed about the possible added pressure of acting as team leader for a team like Sky, Henao said he regarded the captaincy as a learning experience rather than an added burden.


“Being a leader of this team is something new for me. It's a big responsibility with a great team of riders of such quality. I'm not afraid, however. I assumed the responsibility with tranquillity and professionalism. It is an honour that the sports directors trust me. Surely the result so far is not what we expected but the Vuelta is not over yet and there are still things to do. It's my second year here and I have the privilege of being captain of the team and I would love to repay them for their confidence in me with a stage win.”


After the Vuelta, Henao is expected to play a crucial role in Colombia’s bid to take home the gold medal in the world road championships on an undulating parcours that seems tailor made for lightweight climbers. However, Henao said that the forthcoming UCI World Championship race does not interfere with his focus on the Vuelta.


“Of course we look forward to the Worlds and we must continue to work hard for that but there’s still the Vuelta to focus on. We’ll see how it ends and only then will we start thinking about Florence.” 



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