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Hard work for Hendrik

Hendrik De Villiers’s first comment after finishing 44th at the inaugural 2009 Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Series in Tongyeong, Korea on Sunday was that he has a lot of work ahead of him to get back to the level which saw him finish fourth at the 2008 ITU World Triathlon Championships.

‘I had bad luck in the swim. I missed the lead pack and was 20 metres ÔÇô or 10 seconds ÔÇô behind in the first two laps in the water so had to wait for the second pack on the bike as I was on my own all the way,’ De Villiers told Manfred Seidler from his hotel room after the race.

The two lap 1,500m swim was led out by Korea’s Chang Yon Lee which sent the Tongyeong crowd into a frenzy. Hot on his heels was France’s three-time European champion Frederic Belaubre and Australia’s Courtney Atkinson who was given a 15 second time penalty in transition for a false start. Lee climbed out of the water in 18min05, with the chasers between 18:10 and 18:20. De Villiers emerged from the 1500m swim in 18:49.

De Villiers said before his departure to Korea that he is in good shape on the bike and was hoping to get the jump in a breakaway group on the 40km bike leg; but instead he became the work horse for the eight or nine riders in the second bike group to try and catch the leaders.

‘I lost time as I had to wait for the second group. I was in no-mans land and there was no way I was going to catch the leaders on my own. So I waited. But only three or four of us worked, Marek Jaskolka (Pol), Dimitry Smurov (Rus) and Yohann Vincent of France.

‘But when you are chasing guys like (Bevin) Docherty, (Brad) Kahlefeldt, (Kris) Gemmel and (Jarrod) Schoemaker, 50seconds to make up is just to much.ÔÇØ The other riders in the chase group were local athletes who were doing well just to hang onto the driving pace of De Villiers and Co.

The group covered the 40km bike leg in just over an hour (1:01:04 for De Villiers), but by then the horse had bolted and Hendrik decided to finish the race as a hard training session rather than go out and completely exhaust himself.

The fact that he had to do most of the work on the bike leg left him without enough in the tank to make a go of it in the 10km run. ÔÇ£I was tired after the bike, but started to catch some guys of the first group in the last two laps of the run. Had I been in that first pack things could’ve been very different for me. It was a good hard training session today and I know there is work to be done.ÔÇØ

De Villiers finished 44th overall covering the 1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run in 1:53:59 with splits of 18:49 (swim), 1:01:04 (bike) and 32.50 for the run.

He returns home now for about six or seven weeks before heading off to the USA for his next race in Washington DC on June 21.