Sergio and Sebastian Henao are excited to begin their 2018 season on home roads in Colombia.
The Team Sky cousins have played a part in Colombia’s recent cycling resurgence, which continues its momentum with the upcoming Colombia Oro y Paz race (February 6-11).
Both riders will join a strong field, with the race following on from the Colombian national championships. Sergio will defend his national road title on Sunday, after a year spent showcasing the distinctive champion’s jersey at the sport’s highest level.
A rousing victory at Paris-Nice was a career highlight for Sergio, made all the more special for having Sebastian at his side on the climbs, playing an instrumental role in pulling off the narrow win.
Remembering back Henao explained: “Paris-Nice was undoubtedly the most important race of 2017 for me. To win a title as important as this race, against such a rival as (Alberto) Contador, and by two seconds – I think it was historic for the team and me. I think it was the best race of the year for me and one of the highlights of my career.
“My objectives are practically the same year after year. Obviously I will again be targeting Paris-Nice and the objective there will be to defend the title. I also have a lot of desire in the Ardennes Classics. Amstel, Fleche, Liege – they are always races I’ve liked. Another important challenge is the Giro d'Italia and supporting the team to try to win that race.”
I believe that being a national champion is special, even more so when Colombia is now such a strong cycling country.
In 2017 Sergio also showed off the Colombian colours on the biggest stage in cycling, as the 30 year old helped support Chris Froome to victory at the Tour de France.
On his year in the jersey, Sergio added: “It’s been something different and an honour for me. I believe that being a national champion is special, even more so when Colombia is now such a strong cycling country. It’s one of the strongest in the world, just like Team Sky. The team really gave me and the jersey that special value and it makes you feel unique. The details on the jersey are very nice and Pinarello did a special job with the bike. It makes you feel different, stand out, and it makes you give more value and motivation as a national champion.”
For Sebastian Henao racing in his homeland is a real honour, with the team already witnessing the local passion following a recent fan ride in Antioquia.
“I’m very happy that Team Sky are in Colombia for the first time. I think that people will love it because the team has lots of fans in Colombia. I’m very happy that we will be racing in our country.
“For my objectives for 2018, I want to achieve the same thing I set out to do every year – to ride at a good level to help the team at as many races as possible. I always want to give my best to the team leader in every race. We are a team and if one person wins, we all win.”
Joining the Henao cousins in Colombia is new signing Egan Bernal. Fresh off a promising sixth place at the Tour Down Under, both riders believe the 21 year old has everything it takes to become Colombia’s next cycling star.
“I think Egan is like the new jewel of Colombia,” said Sergio. “He is a rider everyone knows about because he is still very young, but has already shown incredible talent. I believe that he could not have chosen a better team. The riders and staff at Team Sky will mature him and together they will create a good process so that he can achieve great things and win races. I believe that it’s the best team to give him support in science, technology, nutrition and training. I believe that in a short time he will be a major figure for Colombian cycling and Team Sky.”
With both Henaos turning pro with Team Sky, Sebastian knows that Bernal will have the support he needs to succeed.
“I’m very happy that Egan is here on the team,” he added. “He is a great rider and I hope to help him a lot. I know that he’ll do very well because he has a lot of talent. I know it will be a great year for him - he has come to a great team and he will progress in the best way.”
“I’m young, but not as young as he is. I have been with this team for five years, I have learned a lot, and I can help Egan both now and in the future. It’s very nice that he is here.”