In the grueling sport of cross-country (XC) mountain bike racing, Henrique Avancini finished 2019 once again as Cannondale Factory Racing’s highest ranked athlete, only this time he moved one step higher on the podium placing second overall. In addition to his highest ever world ranking, Avancini is a former Marathon World Champion as well as winner of the 2019 Andorra World Cup short-track event. In 2019 he landed on the top step of Brazil’s XC and Marathon National Championships podiums as well as three other World Cup podiums.
Welcome to part three of our series “Inside the Team”, which delves behind the scenes of the world’s fastest cross-country mountain bike team – we spent some time with Henrique at an CFR training camp right before an unprecedented global pandemic impacted the mountain bike race season, and the entire world along with it – where we learned more about Henrique’s daily routine and his impressions of the all-new Scalpel.
We just launched the new Scalpel, what was your first reaction when you saw the new Scalpel for the first time fully built and ready for you to ride?
HA: I always get kind of feeling when I look to a bike. Sometimes seems to be light or stiff, or comfy or fast... when I saw the bike, I couldn't describe how that thing would go on trails. It seemed to have a bit of everything, and I was not sure if that would be good or not.
What was your impression of the bike after the first ride?
HA: I was a bit lost on the first ride – the bike felt too fast for me! During that first ride I couldn't quite control the bike...
How did your impression of the bike evolve after a couple of rides though?
HA: I started feeling like a superhero. The bike just pushes you to feel confident and strong.
What was your impression of the bike after your first race?
HA: I just started feeling that the bike could take anything my body could offer. It's pretty good when you feel that the bike is above your level, 'cause you can push your boundaries more and more.
Now that you have had several months of training on the new Scalpel, how has your impression of the bike developed? (due to COVID-19 and the global lockdown, Henrique has ridden it a lot in Africa before the ABSA Cape Epic and back at home...)
HA: We are building a very nice relationship. The more I ride it, the more I can get out of it.
Where do you think the bike made you faster?
HA: On rough terrain, I got the feeling I can rely more on the bike than on my body. Especially in technical sections, the bike has a stable behavior and is easy to brake and accelerate.
How do you think the bike has made you quicker and more efficient?
HA: In cornering and how it brakes. Also, how much you can lean on corners brings speed, and the way you feel avoids unnecessary decelerating.
Describe the new Scalpel in one sentence!
HA: I thought I knew how to ride bikes. I'm learning it again onboard the new Scalpel, but in a better way.
What did you do to relax when you are home?
HA: I like to do normal life stuff, like visiting friends, going out for food or a day out and spend my time on other projects. I enjoy keeping active and working with things that are not directly about my performance.
What do you like most about being at a team camp?
HA: I like the spare time I get, and that all the people around me are focused on the same goals.
What do you like the least about being at a team camp?
HA: For sure it’s not easy to be away from my little daughter.
What is one thing people not inside the team should know that that they don’t know today?
HA: I go on the toilet before and after breakfast (laughter).
What did you work on the most at home for training?
HA: I worked mainly on my mountain bike teams in Brazil, and mental training was the area where we spent more time.
What do you work on as a team when you are all together?
HA: Team building is very important to me. I can work hard anywhere, but I like to be close to the people who are going to be there at the races.
What does the average day look like for you at a team camp?
HA: It’s mainly around a basic routine. We have a pretty fixed schedule and once you get in the groove it just rolls nicely, even if every single day is different.
What are you most excited about for the 2020 season?
HA: I’m excited about how much I’m learning and improving.
What race is your favorite on the 2020 calendar?
HA: I love all racing. I don’t have any preference.
Who is the most influential person in your career and why?
HA: Manuel Fumic (Henri’s team-mate on CFR). He’s a great mate.
Where is the one place in the world you have not been to that you would like to go?
HA: I believe that we make the places great. Therefore, I have no target.
Who would you take with you?
HA: Someone that believes the place itself is not the most important thing.
From history, who would you most like to have beer with? And why?
HA: Jesus. I think I would learn a few things.