His world-class performance placed him in 6th, the best South African, despite a mishap with his wetsuit in the transition area. The superb result puts him in 9th in the ITU world rankings. Appropriately, this was Henri’s ‘home race’, racing on bike brand that has its roots deep in the Cape (founder Mark Blewett grew up in the city and cut his teeth as a pro, racing on the surrounding roads).
“I had a good swim, came out in the front group, but the clip was stuck on my wetsuit and couldn’t get it off. I lost 20 seconds and I had to bury myself on the bike… managed to catch the front group again. I was really happy with the way the bike handled. Before today I was nervous because it was the first race on a new bike, but when I was in the race I was comfortable and really confident on it around the corners – it’s a fast bike!”
Henri has his sights firmly set on the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Having qualified, all that’s left to focus on is his physical and mental preparations. Dubbed ‘the fish’ he’s revered as possessing a powerful weapon – one of the strongest swims in the sport. He’s routinely seen leading modern day icons of Olympic distance triathlon out of the water. He is invariably involved in the front group bike breakaways and has a raft of top-10 results at the WTS.
A natural athlete and phenomenal swimmer, Henri dabbled in many sports throughout high school but was drawn to triathlon when he won the U19 South African Championships for two years in a row without any specific training. 2014 was a break-out season for Henri, where he earned a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games and earned victories at 5150 Africa Championships and the Tongyeong ITU World Cup in Korea.
Henri has continued the trajectory of success in 2015, winning the KZN Championships, ITU Cape Town Africa Cup and the African Continental Champs in Egypt. He also placed 4th at WTS Stockholm, 6th at WTS Auckland and Hamburg, 7th at WTS London and has two top-15 results at WTS Abu Dhabi and WTS Yokohama. He ended the 2015 WTS Series in 12th position after climbing as high as 6th overall.
In the upcoming races, Henri will switch to SwiftCarbon’s new aero race bike, the Hypervox, which he’s been aching to climb on since he saw at the concept showroom in Cape Town. “I had my first ride on the bike and straight away I could feel that it had an edge. You can see the focus is on aero, but there aren’t the usual compromises on handling and the way the bike feels that you get from some other aero road bikes.”
Next up on Henri’s schedule is WTS Yokohama on May the 15th. Tune in then to follow his progress.