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"I would like to be back in Italy next year to fight for the young riders’ classification which has been my goal since I started and I want to finish as close to the top 10 as possible.”

Photo: Sirotti


12.11.2016 @ 13:32 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

In a star-studded team like Sky, it is hard to look beyond the likes of Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, Mikel Landa, Sergio Henao and Wout Poels but in their shadow a Colombian talent has big ambitions. At 23 years of age, Sebastián Henao has already had the honor of being part of the top-ranked squad at the Giro d'Italia and he wants more in the future.


"I have been in the team for three years. I think I've learned a lot. I'm still very young and I'm very happy to be here," Henao tells in an exclusive interview, before adding, "I aim to keep learning here.”


"I feel very good and I want stay at Sky. I need to mature physically and mentally," adds the Colombian who is one of several promising grand tour riders from Colombia.


"I really like racing three-week tours,”confirms Henao. "I have already done three but I also love races like Itzulia [Vuelta al Pais Vasco] or Algarve. I am a stage race rider.”


Henao finished his first three appearances in the Corsa Rosa, an impressive performance for a 23-year-old youngster. "I think you must be consistent in the grand tours. I've only done the Giro, but I know it's hard enough that I am able to speak about the other two too. My strategy is to be regular for those 21 days.”


Henao was the best rider from Sky in two of the three editions of the Italian event, another impressive performance. "I get my satisfaction from the regularity I showed in the three Giros I did. We always have a clear leader at Sky.”


"I was always there to help but a unique personal goal was the young riders’ classification," he continues. "In 2017, I want to do good races and help the captains, especially in the Giro, where I still have another year to get my dream of being the best young rider.”


However, Henao knows that he is still far from a captaincy role. "Being a leader involves a lot of responsibility and that is something you must acquire over the years," he says. "At Sky there are many stars and for me it is good to get advice from the leaders and more experienced teammates.”


However, much has happened since he arrived in Europe from Colombia, not knowing what the future would bring. "I've grown as a rider and as a person. I'm still young and I have a long journey. I always say that in every race you learn something new," he says.


With the season completed, 2017 looms on the horizon, and Henao knows that his contract ends at the end of the year. That does not seem to affect him. “I do not feel any pressure , I trust myself. I want to have a good year in which I have clearly defined challenges.”


Henao already knows what he wants to achieve in 2017. "I really like the Giro and this year did not turn out so bad. I would like to be back in Italy next year to fight for the young riders’ classification which has been my goal since I started and I want to finish as close to the top 10 as possible.”


Despite having his eyes on a fourth appearance in the 'Corsa Rosa', it is inevitable that the question of a Tour de France debut comes up. "I like to focus on the Giro, but it is clear that the dream of doing a Tour is also there," he admits. "At Sky there are great riders and to be one of the nine that will travel to France, you must be on top and be very strong. So for now I prefer to focus on Italy although I would love to get to know the Tour as a professional.”


Henao has already had a look at the course for his most important race of the year. "The course is nice, quite hard when you look at the profiles, and it will be important to do a recon some stages, but I do not know much more”, he says.


"I do not know exactly who will fight for the white jersey. It's a tough fight because every season there are great and talented riders," adds the South American who prefers to focus on himself and his training.


"I still have to work in all areas. We have a coach who makes us work on the climbs and also asks us to work of the TT bike once or twice a week,” he reveals.


Henao reiterates what his motivation is when riding in winter. "My calendar is still not decided. Time will tell in December but I maintain my goal is to be in the white jersey at the end of the Giro.


In 2016, Henao was set to work for Mikel Landa in the Giro but the Basque was forced to abandon due to illness. Next year Landa is again expected to be the leader in Italy. "Mikel Landa is very cheerful, and I have been with him in several races. He is a great person, very focused. He is s a great teammate,” he says.


"However, my idol is my cousin Sergio. I admire him a lot for everything he has been through with crashes, fractures and others. To see him get out of that and be more eager to continue is something that inspires me," he says.


"His will is something I admire very much. I saw him when he could not walk because his fracture prevented him. To witness the whole process of recovery and the dedication and professionalism that he has was exciting and now I just hope to see him at the highest level again," he concludes.



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