Team Spur’s Alan Hatherly stunned the crowds as he fought a hard and consistent fight to finish second in the U23 Men’s Cross-country race at the 2017 UCI MTB World Cup race in Vallnord, Andorra, on Sunday 2 July. Sunday’s brilliant performance with a combination of consistently impressive races, 21-year-old Hatherly now leads the UCI MTB XCO U23 Men’s rankings.
Hatherly knew that a podium position was within his reach from early on in the race. He chatted about the constant adrenaline rush from being close to the front from an early point: “After the start loop I made my way to third by the end of the first lap. From there I was in line for a podium, but the gap behind me was really close – about 15 seconds to two riders.
“So in the back of my head I was just telling myself not to make a mistake, and don’t fade – just keep it all together.”
He stressed that for him, consistency was the obvious key to success in Andorra. When it came down to the last lap, there were five riders very close to each other at the front of the race. “I knew that the two who had just bridged across were going to be really tired because they had just pushed really hard to get to us, so I wasn’t too phased about that. Having said that though, I was a bit concerned that one of the two would have more legs than me when it came down to the crucial point of going really hard for the line,” he added.
Hatherly spoke of how fortunate he had been to position himself well, and of learned experiences from the past years. “I had quite a lot of close racing last year on home soil with James (Reid) and Philip (Buys) and in previous years in my career,” he said.
It was this that made him play it smart and tactical all the way to the line. “I just made sure I kept moving forward until I was on Simon (Andreasson)’s wheel. The plan was to get around him and win, but he had more legs when it came to the final kick,” he added.
He described the feeling of his first ever World Cup Podium as beyond amazing.
Hatherly has excelled on a national level, having recently claimed the SA National MTB Cup Series XCO title on home soil: “All the nationals have helped me prepare for my World Cups, and although I’ve gone into them with a lot of fatigue, I’ve managed to fine tune that race sharpness you can’t really simulate with intervals. Also, we got to test how we were going to race at the World Cups, which means fine-tuning things like tyre pressure, suspension, bearings and race support.”
With Cycling South Africa hosting UCI category events, Hatherly has benefited from points gained at home. “It was very beneficial, especially for the first World Cup round for me, as I started on number three – in the front row,” he said.
He grabbed favourable points when he was placed sixth in the Czech Republic World Cup for the U23 World Series. After a race that disappointed him in Germany he didn’t move up in the Series. This meant that for Andorra, Hatherly was number 11. “This was still good, but it did take a little bit more of a hustle to get through the group up the first climb,” he added.
Hatherly is off to Lenzerheide this weekend to take part in the next round of the 2017 UCI MTB XCO Cup in Switzerland. “This weekend I’ll be starting sixth, which is a good start for me, and I’m really looking forward to it,” he concluded.