(Pietermaritzburg) Team Spur’s Alan Hatherly is the undisputed king of XCO racing in SA. The young Olympian claimed his third victory on the trot for the season as he won the fourth round of the SA XCO MTB Cup Series in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, on Saturday.
Despite still being eligible to race in the U23 category for another year, his start-to-finish win on the demanding Cascades track sealed the 2017 SA XCO Cup Elite Men’s title, his third in as many years.
“The race went really well,” said the 21-year-old who recently returned from a successful European campaign. “I managed to get the hole shot from the start and pretty much lead from there all the way through to the end.”
According to Hatherly he was preparing for a ding-dong battle with Pyga-Euro Steel’s front-man Philip Buys. But Buys suffered a pinch flat in the first lap, effectively taking him out of the hunt for a win.
“From there I was pretty much racing myself,” Hatherly says. “I managed to go through the first lap, with roughly a 20-second gap and managed to extend it by about that much on each lap.”
While the win and hat-trick of SA Cup overall series titles satisfied Hatherly, it is where his form and preparation is for his second block of European racing which made him really happy.
“My form is really good,” he says. “I struggled with a bit of illness after I got back from the first block of European racing so I didn’t manage to get quite what I wanted from that first week back (in terms of training) but I did manage to get a lot of volume and strength work in leading up to this event,” he says, explaining how he felt it on the day. “I definitely wasn’t as sharp and fast as I would’ve liked to have been, but in a way that is good. I’d rather do some crazy speed work this week and then taper nicely for the next block of World Cup races.”
Hatherly leaves for Europe on 25 June as he heads into the Andorra and Lenzerheide legs of the UCI XCO MTB World Cup series, before returning to South Africa in July to support the Spur Schools Mountain Bike League and compete for the national jersey at the South African Championships.