One of South Africa’s up and coming cross country talents Alan Hatherly is in his first year of Under-23 however the 19 year old star will be taking on the country’s finest cross country riders as he races in the elite men’s category at the Stihl SA MTB Championships presented by Subaru Cape Town/Novus Holdings in Stellenbosch on Saturday 18 July. The Kargo Pro MTB star has been in great form during the UCI World Cup season however he has put a lot of emphasis on the national championships with a lot of his previous endeavours gearing him up for the national cross country championships. Hatherly says: ‘The South African Champs is definitely a priority race for me. My training programme has been worked around peaking this weekend in Stellenbosch and I hope that I will be in top shape for the race as it is important that I ride well!’
?Hatherly has stated clearly that he is aiming to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics and with it being more viable to compete in the elite category he understands that it will be a difficult task and with the chance to qualify he understands the importance of the upcoming national championships. He says: ‘The national champs are one of the biggest criteria when it comes to qualifying. There are 110 UCI points available for the winner so that makes it hugely valuable at this stage however anything can happen on the day and I know that the standard is going to be right up there.’
Stellenbosch is not too foreign for the KwaZulu-Natal based rider although it has been a number of years since he rode in the Western Cape. The weather is another aspect that Hatherly has had to take into consideration before heading down to the Winelands however he is not putting too much emphasis on it and believes that it will not be too much of a hindrance should it appear. He says: ‘I have overcome my weather issues. I am going into the raced prepared for anything at the end of the day. I have not ridden in Stellenbosch in a long time but I have been watching some pre-race footage and I will have a bit of time on the course before the race as well as some photos to go on so it shouldn’t be too foreign when we start racing.’
Hatherly achieved his best result at a World Cup in Switzerland recently with a 17th place overall and first Under-19 and the youngster is grateful for the exposure that he is getting mixing it with the best in the age division. He says: ‘Being exposed to the best riders from Europe in my age category is great as it gives me insight into how they compete and race. I was amongst the top 10 for a couple of the laps in Switzerland and it was something that I really appreciated and my biggest goal for the World Cup’s is to get into that top 10 bracket. I have a few more shots at getting into that bracket after the SA Champs.’
The racing will be tough at the front of the field and Hatherly understands that all of the riders have the same goal in mind however with team mate Brendon Davids in the race there could be room for some team tactics. Hatherly says: ‘We haven’t thought about any Kargo team plans as of yet and I understand that it could be every man for himself out there but we will see when we get out there.’ Online entries are now closed. Late entries will be accepted at registration with an additional nominal fee of R50.
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Photo credit: Anthony Grotes/Gameplan Media