(Cairns, Australia) Team Spur’s Alan Hatherly capped off his best ever XCO season by finishing in second place in the U23 Men’s race at the UCI MTB World Champs in Australia, on Friday 8 September. Hatherly completed the six laps of the 4.3km course in 1:17:57, some 11 seconds behind New Zealand’s, Sam Gaze who won his second straight U23 World Championship, Maximilian Brandl of Germany rounded out the podium.
“I’m a bit lost for words,” commented the 21-year-old shortly after the finish (around 8am SA time). “So stoked with the outcome, it was the plan from early on in the year to get this kind of result here.”
The tactical race through the rainforest on the highly technical track at Smithfield Park in Cairns went just about according to plan, admits the young star, “We knew the heat and humidity was going to be a big factor, so JP (Jacobs, team mechanic) and I had our game plan for cooling well mapped out, this included ice towels during warm-up and ice water during the race.”
According to Alan – who started in pole position, as the highest ranked U23 rider – the start loop was predictably fast and caused an early split, after which tactics came into play. “We all sat up after the start loop and looked at each other to see who would pull,” he says. “By that time a group of seven had formed and we kind of worked together, but watched each other closely, as the tactics continued.”
“Things got real on Lap 4,” Alan says. “Sam started going a bit harder up the climb and I – lying fourth – saw guys were losing his wheel, which had me a bit panicked because there was not much chance of overtaking there. “Fortunately with this track it splits on the climb where there are more challenging, rocky straight lines. I attacked through one of these just to get past the bunch and chase Sam down to make sure he didn’t get away too early.”
Alan and Sam rode together for a lap before Sam made his decisive move at the top of the climb on the penultimate lap. “He got out of the saddle and kicked really hard, I was feeling really good with a constant steady pace so I couldn’t react straight away. I knew though, that if I rode a steady pace I’d have a chance of maybe pulling him back. However, he got about a 10 second gap and that’s how it stayed until the end.”
“Just a massive thanks to everyone who helped along the way to get me to where I finished today, I couldn’t have done it without such an awesome support system,” Alan concluded.
Director of Team Spur, Nic Lamond, believes this is just the start for the young Hatherly, “I’m over the moon. It is such a pleasure to work with Alan – a young talent whose professionalism is already so well developed. As a team we pride ourselves on a powerful launchpad for Alan to chase his dreams, but the work still has to be done. And Alan knows how to deliver that. So many heroes behind the scenes make these results possible: staff, coach, sponsors. Special thanks to Spur Restaurants, Specialized South Africa and Kargo International for having our back all season. We need some time to let it sink in, but the team is already excited to see what next year brings – don’t forget Alan has another year in the U23 ranks!”