Sergio Henao draws inspiration from Geraint Thomas for Paris-Nice fightback

Henao said he used his experience to save Paris-Nice victory on the final day

Sergio henao on the Paris-Nice podium (ASO/K.D.Thorstad)
(Image credit: ASO/K.D.Thorstad)

Twelve months and a few hours ago and Alberto Contador was attacking on the Côte de Peille on the final stage of Paris-Nice to try and take the yellow jersey off the back of a Team Sky rider.

>>> Sergio Henao narrowly holds on to win Paris-Nice as Alberto Contador attacks

This year he did it again, on both occasions opening a sizeable gap on his rival and looking like the race was his.

Although it was Geraint Thomas doing the chasing in 2016, and Sergio Henao in 2017, the results were nearly identical, with Contador missing out on the overall win by two seconds this year, compared to four seconds last year.

Given that Contador trailed Henao by 31 seconds at the start of the stage, the Colombian could have been forgiven for feeling as if he was going to miss out when the gap between Contador and his group went out beyond a minute.

But the Team Sky rider had last year’s experience to draw on as he delivered the team their fifth win in this race in six years.

“With what was happening, I thought about what happened last year with Thomas," Henao said.

"It was basically the same situation so I couldn’t help but think about it.

“Last year I was there to help Geraint, so that meant I knew how to deal with that sort of stress.”

Despite having experience on his side, Henao admitted that there were moments where he thought the gap couldn’t be sufficiently closed.

“I panicked a little bit when the gap was over a minute and I wasn’t receiving any help from the other teams.

“But it was simple: what I needed to do was an uphill time trial and give all I had on the descents. I knew it would be difficult, and that I would have to fight until the final metre.”

This was Henao’s first stage race victory, and it was clear what it meant as he leapt up to embrace the soigneur who was trying to wipe the sweat from his face after the finish line when his slender victory was confirmed.

And it was beleaguered Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford who Henao dedicated his win too.

“I’d like to dedicate this victory to the team, the staff, and the mechanics, but especially to Dave Brailsford. He was always there when I needed him.

“He was there when I was injured when I crashed several years ago and my knee was destroyed. He always supported me, and he never gave up on me.”

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