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Olympian Hatherly happy with third after hard training week

Hatherly

‘Stoked! Very stoked with third-overall today.’

Those were the sentiments of Rio Olympian and Team Spur’s 20-year-old XCO specialist Alan Hatherly after last weekend’s opening round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB series in Grabouw.

Hatherly rode a smart tactical race to finish a close third to defending National MTB Series Champion Max Knox and Swiss racing legend, Christoph Sauser. The 2017 series has seen the culling of the ultra-marathon distance for a more traditional marathon distance and it played right to Hatherly’s strengths on the day.

‘The plan for the Grabouw national today was to use it for training, so in the week leading up to race-day I trained as per normal and even did quite a lot of strength work on Wednesday,’ he says.

Alan wasn’t too sure what effect that kind of training load would have on race day, but was determined to give it a full go and test form and fitness, especially with the all-star field assembled. ‘The start was crazy,’ he explains. ‘It was 30 guys going flat box through the twisty roads and was quite scary, to be honest. Obviously the risk of crashing was really high.’

With the start safely negotiated it was out into the famed mountains above Grabouw where he found himself at the sharp end of the race. ‘We arrived at the bottom of the KOM quite quickly and in the approach I saw Philip [Buys] and Matthys [Beukes] set up a one-two to try and slingshot each other to get a head start.’

‘I managed to go with them and from there we started a really hard effort to see who was actually good for the day.’

Hatherly reached the top first to claim the KOM and from there dictated the race for a while. ‘I had a 20-second gap on Matthys and there were another 20 seconds back to Max and then another big gap to Sauser and the rest of the guys,’ he says.

‘I was hoping Matthys and Max would bridge across and that we would work together from there and keep the group smaller.’

After about 5km of riding solo and the field being strung out, Hatherly made the wise move of sitting up and waiting for the regroup. ‘There was about 40km still to go and it didn’t make sense to leave it all out there by myself in the wind,’ he says.

A group of five rode together testing each other on each climb until the final steep challenge.

‘Here it all fell apart,’ Alan explains. ‘By the top of that last climb it was myself, Sauser and Max and the three of us were sort of sussing each other out, still hammering it trying to get rid of one-another.’

At the top of the concrete section Hatherly unfortunately lost touch. ‘I hit my limit there and watched Sauser go full risk on the muddy descent to pull away. I could see him and Max all the way to the line – they were around 30 seconds ahead of me.’

‘All-in-all a very good day out and I’m stoked with the form so far. The pre-season training has gone really well and Saturday – with the racing style being so similar to cross country – suited me. I’m looking forward to the first (XCO) National of the year at the end of Feb. I think it’s going to be a good one.’

Meanwhile, Team Spur’s three-time Absa Cape Epic winner and current Swiss Marathon Champion, Ariane Lüthi chose not to race in Grabouw as she was protesting the elite women’s prize money not being equal to the men’s.


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