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