A valiant effort at Mont Sainte-Anne sees Alan Hatherly within reach of an overall series podium in the UCI U23 World Cup series, with one round remaining.
Visa delays saw Team Spur’s Alan Hatherly arrive in Mont Sainte-Anne, Canada only 15 hours before the start of the Men’s U23 race at the UCI XCO World Cup Round 5 on Sunday, 6 August. Battling jet lag and having briefly walked some sections of the course in pouring rain late the day before, Alan put on a solid performance to finish 13th after the six-lap race.
“I arrived late Saturday afternoon and then did a course walk with Simon (Andreassen, the Danish rider who ended up third) and managed to get a rough idea of what to expect for the race,” Hatherly explains. Luckily he had Team Spur’s mechanic, JP Jacobs along for the walk, and the two hatched a plan to set up the bike for raceday, without touching the track. Typically, Hatherly and Jacobs will work on perfecting bike setup for a World Cup race over a few days of riding the course.
“It was also bucketing down with rain,” Hatherly recalls. “But I managed to see a few lines on the really difficult sections to keep myself somewhat safe.”
Hatherly started the race on the front row and knew he was going to need to go flat out from the gun to have any chance of a good finish. “I managed to get a good start, but it was really crazy racing up front not knowing how long the climbs are or where the next corner was to stop guys from coming past,” he says.
Hatherly maintained his position in the start loop and into the first proper race lap, but then his trans-continental odyssey caught up with him and he faded. “I rode everything alright during the race, but the speed definitely wasn’t as fast as I would’ve liked it to have been,” he says. “My climbing speed was good – I didn’t lose any time there – and then tried to close the gaps on the descents.”
According to Hatherly his chest closed up slightly at the halfway mark, due to a combination of the long travel times and the serious race pace in the cool surrounds.
“This track is one of the gnarliest on the World Cup circuit, so riding it blind was really crazy. On the whole, I’m happy with 13th and just stoked it all worked out alright.”
Team Spur’s and Hatherly’s long-term season goal – to finish in the top three overall for the UCI U23 World Cup series – remains intact. As a result of his courageous race in Canada he now sits in fourth, 10 points off third, with the final round of the season in Val di Sole, Italy on 27 August.