South African stars Henri Schoeman and Richard Murray had forgettable weekends in the World Triathlon Series in Bermuda. Photo: Mark Schiefelbein/AP

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s new Commonwealth Games triathlon champion Henri Schoeman realised in Bermuda over the weekend that he has a big target on his back.

Schoeman lined up on the back of a glorious Gold Coast victory, but could only end up eighth in Bermuda, the first ever World Triathlon Series event to be held on the island.

And there wasn’t any better news for South Africa’s other entrant, two-time Olympian Richard Murray, who was forced to pull out with a back injury.

Schoeman clocked one hour 56 minutes 24 seconds for the combined 1 500m swim, 40km cycle and 10km run.

That was 1:37 behind Norway’s Casper Stornes as the Scandinavian nation raced to a historic clean sweep of the podium.

“Strange things happen in the Bermuda Triangle,” was Schoeman’s wry take on his race to Team SA. “It was a day of trying to be and not being smart.

“I can say I thought that I left it all out there on Saturday, and I wore my golden No 1 with pride.

“I tried my best to keep the racing honest in the swim and throughout the bike, but unfortunately, no one let me go off the front and others got the opportunity to have a crack at breakaways.

“I guess that comes with being the series leader. Although I completely emptied the tank with one kilometre to go, I lost three positions and finished eighth.

“Considering this was an all-new experience and a big media demand pre-race, I think I handled everything the best I could.”

As for Murray, he was forced to pull out during the run leg to avoid doing more damage to a painful back.

It was a bittersweet experience for Murray as he had one of his best swims to date but his run of bad luck continued to dog him this year.

“Yeah, the DNF (did not finish) wasn’t great,” he said. “I had lower back problems from the bike (leg).

“But I had my best swim to date and came out only 20 seconds behind, so it’s good to see that aspect is going in the right direction and something positive to take out. 

“On the bike I was in the front group for the first time ever in my career in Olympic distance, that’s another positive.”

But that’s where the positives came to an end.

“On the bike I wasn’t feeling great, a bit weak and couldn’t contribute much. The whole field came together on the bike and when I went out on the run, the body felt pretty terrible.

“I tried to get into the rhythm ,but the back started flaring up after two kilometres, I was in a bad place and I had to pull out rather than do more damage.

“It’s been a tough start to the year. The Commonwealth Games didn’t go to plan and then I had the crash in Abu Dhabi, but I guess I can only look forward and work on getting the small things right.”

African News Agency (ANA)