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Henderson and Roulston: Double Your Kiwi Fun
 
By Cathy Mehl
Date: 2/18/2006
Henderson and Roulston: Double Your Kiwi Fun
 
Questions for Greg and Hayden

Half of the fun in sitting down with a cyclist from New Zealand is listening to his sayings and phrases. I decided to go for broke and take on two Kiwis at a time as I talked with Olympians Greg Henderson and Hayden Roulston from Health Net. For me as a female, I've often felt myself drawing energy and strength from my girlfriends, and these two mates from New Zealand are indeed happy to be racing together for the top team in America. Despite humorous offers from teammates to translate for Hendy and Hayden, I had no problem discerning their message of teamwork and friendship.

Daily Peloton: You've just come off an amazing season with HealthNet. Tell me what it felt like to be part of such a dominating team.

Greg Henderson: I don't really think of things that way. I'm here to do a job. It's not like, "Oh let's be the greatest team in America." My job is to either help teammates get across the line first or help me get across the line first. That's just what we do everyday. Every time we went out to race we tried to think of a way to win it. And the team was just so dedicated toward one another that the domination is just what happened. We ended up getting the results that gave us the label of the greatest team in America.

DP: So while you were going through the season it just felt like you were doing your job and racing with your mates?

Hendy: Yes, absolutely. I was just going out racing my bike. It's a good thing when you can do both things: win and have fun.

DP: You had a nice season personally as well. What was your favorite race last year and why? I know you won at Lancaster. And that was a great one-two finish with Gord Fraser at Stage Six of Georgia last year, plus you took the sprint jersey.

Hendy: Georgia was not fun. That last day at Georgia....ah.

DP: I remember the night before-- you kept saying, "My legs are dead. I can't do it!"

Hendy: I didn't know how I was going to do it.

But you did.

Yeah. I enjoy that race at Lancaster. I've done that one a number of times. I guess you always enjoy ones you win! San Francisco is good. And Philly, I like the Philly race as well. It's awesome. There are a lot of good races here, and a lot of awesome races back home in New Zealand, as well. I can't pick one favorite race, but I guess my favorite result would be Lancaster, just because of the way the team worked to set me up for the win, and with all that pressure to win the race I didn't let the team down. So it was a good feeling.

How much time do you spend in the United States now?

Back and forth until March, and then from March through September I will be in the United States.

What do you think about the upcoming Tour of California?

It's going to be good! Another exposure to the Europeans, to the Pro Tour. A big show.

Hayden: It's good for American cycling and shows that it's growing in a big way.

Your fellow sprinter Ivan Dominquez has left the team now. Does this open up more chances for you to race in 2006? Does it create more pressure for you?

Nah, the most pressure is the pressure you put on yourself. There are going to be times to deliver Gord at 200m and then times when Gord's job is to deliver me at 200m. All depends on the day. I really liked Ivan, so it's a shame he's gone, because personally I got along with him really well. But in saying that, we've got two more fast guys, with Hayden and the big unit, Karl Menzies, the big Tazwezian.

Hayden: You can't see him, but you'll probably be able to hear him.

Hendy: Oh, you'll be able to see him! He's big!

How was camp this year?

Good riding. Everyone's done a lot of work. A few of us have done a little extra. Seven days of solid riding every day. A good block of training.

Do you have your race schedule yet?

Pretty much. Well, Tour of California. We're also going to do the first trip to Europe, so that will be good. We're both on the same program. Georgia, we'll be there.

We can hope it doesn't snow again on Brasstown Bald.

That was cold, I was such a wreck. Miserable.

Hendy, when you look at your race calendar is there a particular race you would like to try to win, perhaps one that has alluded you?

Just the ones I've done well at before. It all depends again on what my job is that day. I know Jeff (Corbett) has scheduled me in tentatively to hit my straps during the European campaign, pretty much after Georgia, for the rest of the season. Philly week, then I have a little bit of down time, just so I can ramp up again for the end of the season. It's hard to go well all year. And I like to go home to have a little breather. But since it's summer back home I'm really fit right now. I haven't done a heap of a lot of racing, but I'm fitter than I was this time last year.

You worked harder this off season?

I just kept fitter. And I had a girlfriend that kept me on the straight and narrow, so that's probably a big thing! (Laughs) Stopped me from downing all of those extra calories in the bar!

You're both Olympians, right? Will you both try to make the New Zealand team in 2008?

Correct. In the Madison.

When will you qualify for that?

You have to qualify for the World Championships through a World Cup in 2007. And then you have to qualify at the World Championships to qualify for the Olympics. So for two races prior to the Olympics we have to be good.

So tell me a story from the Athens Olympics, one I can include in my article of course!

I remember the drag race with Linares on the Velodrome. He was one of the top Spanish track racers for years and years. There were like six or seven teams that had taken a lap in the Madison. And then we started attacking and attacking. In hindsight we know now we were attacking too early. From watching it on TV. But you don't realize it at the time. This big fellow sitting right here (Hayden) was just drag racing with Linares and then he'd sling me and I'd be racing against him. We just had everyone chasing us.

Hayden: We were good. Before the race we were definite medal contenders, and after the race we were so disappointed because we had the capability.

Hendy: It's not like we got shut down. But it was just that everyone had the same objective. When we were attacking the race, there were four countries that would take turns chasing us, because if we took the extra lap we'd win the bike race. So everyone had the incentive to chase us. Geez, we had the wheels, I'll tell ya.

Did you have a good off season? Any traveling?

I did spend quite a bit of time in Aussie with (cyclist) Katie (Mactier). And she came over to New Zealand a bit too so we went to the holiday house. Just turned things down a bit, really.

Hayden: Myself, I let it out and I had a great time! I let every thing go. I had to. I had to find myself again.

So was Hendy instrumental in bringing you to Health Net?

Hayden: Yeah, for sure. The first contact was made through Hendy, which made it all a whole lot easier. Obviously coming from three years I've won pros is something big on my side, but it's still a who you know game, no matter who you've ridden for, so he was definitely instrumental.

Did you quit Discovery? Were you wanting to go to another team right away?

Yeah, for sure. I quit once I knew there was another team lined up. I just decided I wasn't enjoying it so much in Europe. I'd had a really tough year. I didn't race from March right through. I had an operation, I had a cyst removed, and I just couldn't sit on the seat. So it was a really tough year and I just needed a change. I'd just lost the love for cycling and I needed to find it again. You've got to enjoy what you're doing or you're never going to do it right. It's the same in every single aspect of life. But this is why I'm here. I chose to come here. I turned my back on the biggest team in the world because I wanted to come back and find that excitement again, find that love again.

Did you know much about Health Net?

Yeah, sure, I know a lot about Health Net. It's hard to not know about them when they win everything! Judging by the success of my last year, I was really happy that they could move some things around and accommodate me. A lot had to be considered. I'm just happy to be here.

Hendy probably didn't want to share any of his salary with you.

Yeah, he gets millions, and rightly so! (They both laugh)

How does it feel being with a smaller team? This is the best team in America, but you were with one of the best teams in Europe.

Ya know, at the end of the day you're a professional cyclist. And you all have a job to do. Whether you're on a Division One team or a Division Three team...each of you have a job to do. So I don't feel you're treated any differently. Of course there are budget issues but from what I've seen here at camp we're looked after pretty well. I'm happy; it's great.

What type of race are you best at and what will your role at Health Net be?

I like the tours. I can dabble in some of everything. I'm not a Hendy sprinter and I'm not a Moninger climber but I'm the kind of guy who can get over the climbs and still be there for the sprint finish. I like the hard one day Classics. When I was in Europe I was on the Classics team. The harder the better. The role for this team is undecided right now, but like Hendy said, one day it might be my day if it's a hard race. And the next day I might be on the front leading Greg or Gord out, or maybe taking Scott Moninger up the climb. I am prepared to do what it takes, as well as win a sprint.

Greg: I just want to say that for me personally its a good thing to have my mate on the team now. It's really a good thing for both of us.

Hayden: Yeah, and we can travel back and forth to New Zealand together. We're on the same race program, and we're on the track team with some of our other mates who will be living with me in Boulder. There is a really positive attitude there and we're all like family. It's going to be great. We can encourage each other along the way. That's what we do. It's huge!

 
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