The Belgian sensation who is already racing at WorldTour level


Henri who?

Vandenabee­le. Quite a mouthful, we know, but the 21-year-old from Deinze, Belgium, is one of the hottest properties on the under-23 scene right now. After just two years at this level, he will be graduating to the Team DSM senior team for next season.

I kind of recognise him...

Yes, you would if you were paying close attention to a number of pro races this year. Henri has raced Coppi e Bartali, Brabantse Pijl, the Tour of the Alps and the Tour de l’Ain among others. Quite a lot of pro racing for a U23 rider.

How does he think his year has gone?

He reckons, “quite good”, which is probably an understate­ment. He tells Procycling: “I was planning to do a few more under-23 races, but loads of races were cancelled, so I had an opportunit­y to do a lot of races with the WorldTour team, and I had some nice experience­s with them. The Tour of the Alps was great to do. It was nice to ride with all of the big names of the peloton, and just be there and try and do my best for the team. In the end, I think they were quite happy with what I have done.”

Has he done much else?

In between racing with the bigger boys, he has managed to finish on the podium at the Baby Giro two years in a row. Last year, he finished second at the Giro and the Ronde de l’Isard, two of the biggest under-23 races, and he finished third at this year’s Baby Giro. Henri says: “I wanted to go for the win, but I said to myself I would be happy with a podium too, as this is up there with the Tour de l’Avenir as the biggest race.”

How does he find DSM?

Pretty good, so far. He accepts there has been a lot of criticism of the team this year, but thinks it is the best place for his developmen­t. Probably wise considerin­g he’ll be graduating to the WorldTour team soon.

What kind of rider is he?

He explains: “Long climbs are better for me, but I would also like to do some classics and some races in Flanders.”

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