1 Sep 2009

Henderson wins Tour of Spain stage

6:05 am on 1 September 2009

The New Zealand cyclist Greg Henderson has won the third stage of the Tour of Spain... the first New Zealander to win a stage on the grand tour for 29 years.

Henderson won a sprint finish after a flat 189km stage in the Netherlands thanks to the work of his US Columbia team over the last 5 kms... finishing almost a bike length ahead of Slovenia's Borut Bozic. Spain's Oscar Freire was third.

The only previous victory by a New Zealand rider in the Tour of Spain's 73-year history was taken by Paul Jesson in 1980 in Santander.

Henderson, a former world track champion, says the team has been practicing their leadout and sprinting and it paid off today.

He says he only found out 5 days ago that he was definetly going to ride the Vuleta.

After three days racing, the stage one winner Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland remains in the overall lead. Henderson is in second place, six seconds back and Germany's Gerald Ciolek, who won stage two, is third eight seconds down.

After four days' racing in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, the race returns to Spain tomorrow night.

Henderson is a former track cycling champion who notably won Commonwealth Games gold in the points race in 2002, and a world title in the scratch in 2004.

His notable wins on the road include stages on the Tour of Georgia and the Tour of Catalunya.

Team Columbia's regular sprinter is Mark Cavendish, who won 6 stages in this year's Tour de France, but isn't competing in the Spanish event.

The Tour of Spain is considered the third of the great tours after France and Italy.