There is no looking back
I'm not going to drag this out and go on and on about my cycling career. Instead I'm just going to take the time to thank everyone that made this dream a reality.
I would never have thought I would be racing my bike professionally at the highest level in the World for so long. Actually there is no way to predict that and I believe that by ticking boxes each year and striving to be that little bit better every year gave me the drive to keep pushing my level higher and higher.
I can honestly say I wouldn't have got where I am today without the support of Mum and Dad. Every weekend we had the BMX bikes on the Bike Rack from the age of 5 and we were off racing for the next 11yrs. To have parents that invested that much time into the sport that I loved was instrumental.
So thanks Mum and Dad.
My first coach. Terry Gyde. Probably the most passionate cycling enthusiast in the World. Every athlete he coached he has that much belief and faith in almost to a fault. Well actually he did get in a bit of strife with National Team selectors and Coaches that didn't quite see it his way.
Every day I had some doubts if I could achieve something...he would show me the ways in which I had already outperformed this task and "simplify the beast"
The next Chapter was basically when I decided I needed to see what this Pro Cycling was all about. I had not even heard of the Tour de France. I was more interested in the BMX worlds which I did at the age or 11 for the first time.
For a team to take on an athlete from a country with little or no cycling background is a huge gamble. With these countries there is no in between. Its complete success or complete failure. Jeff Corbett was the guy to first take that gamble with me. Much appreciated.
I was still lucky enough to combine my new passion...road racing...with my passion for racing the Velodrome and lucky enough to represent New Zealand in 5 Olympic games, 4 Commonwealth Games and I honestly cant remember how many World Championships.
The mix was getting harder and harder though, and to turn myself back into a road cyclist after every track campaign was timely and I have to thank the directors of the teams that I rode for that allowed this transformation to occur. Some pretty rough days being track fit and having to race 180km on the road 1wk later.
As the years progressed I had some pretty stable people in my corner so it was a matter of working out what I was really good at in reality, as opposed to what I wanted to be really good at.
My wife Katie was always my biggest supporter and was always amazed how I could pick my way through the peloton. From relaxing on the back of the peloton one minute to being on the front the very next lap. She could never quite believe how fast and efficiently I could do that. It was my gift in cycling...positioning!
I was a pretty quick sprinter also but never on the level on the road as Greipel Cavendish Kittle. If I was to beat these guys I had to use all my track craft and positioning skills and try start a few bike lengths infront. It didn't happen very often.
So, I quickly realised, if I want to be really good and have longevity in the Sport of Cycling I should focus a lot of energy into this area of my riding. Who better to help than my good friend and beast of a bike rider Andre Greipel. His one chink in his armour was...positioning!! Bingo....lets work together.
Thankyou Andre, thankyou Marc Sergeant and thankyou Katie for helping me realise what I was truly one of the best in the World at.
5 Tour de France later and about 100 wins together....pretty good combo I would safely say.
My other passion while I was riding was the exercise physiology side of sport and primarily cycling. I used to read so many new studies and pick the brains daily of the sports scientists on the team. My interest stemmed from my time doing Sport degree in my home town of Dunedin. But the real passion was sparked when I used simple ideas into my training efforts and would see huge gains in planned and reasoned training.
This is the direction I'm headed now and NOT LOOKING BACK!
I love it.
Two days ago I competed in my last UCI race and it was a beautiful send off. I suffered badly for 3 days in the high altitude mountains in Colorado but on the final day I was able to do what I have made a healthy career out of. Find my way to the front of the sprint with my team mate Travis on the wheel and drop him off at 200m to go.
Could not have asked for a more fitting race....
Thankyou United Healthcare for allowing me to mentor the guns of American cycling this year and pass on some of my knowledge from my 20yrs of experience.
This is the End of Professional Racing for Greg Henderson but its the Start for Coach Hendy. I'm super excited with the partnerships I'm developing and the future is going to be fun, demanding and a great learning venture.
When I invest my energy and passion into something I am determined to make it something very very successful.
Thanks for reading and of course the biggest thanks is saved for last....my fans...its sounds strange for me to say it....I prefer to say my friends that have followed me and supported me throughout my career. Some very loyal people out there and I appreciate it. Through the good and the bad times. Thanks again Friends.