The name Alan Hatherly (21) is one to remember. This young mountain biking champion has a bright future ahead.
WORDS: FRANS LE ROUX | IMAGES: CRAIG KOLESKY
Q: You had an amazing 2017 with the highlight certainly being your silver at World Champs. What went through your mind during that race and did you ever think you could claim a podium?
It was a really crazy race, a lot more tactical than the previous World Cup races – mainly due to a bigger reward at the finish line (World Champion title). Risk vs reward played out in the back of my mind in the last few laps, because a podium position could have slipped away so easily with a small mistake. I kept it smooth and focused and with Sam being in sight pretty much all the way to the line he was the carrot I was chasing to the line. I knew when Sam and I broke away from the group with 1.5 laps to go that a podium was definitely possible but where I was going to end up was still uncertain. In the end to be second and so close to that win was a bittersweet moment but definitely a highlight of my career so far and its driving me to go for gold at the 2018 World Champs.
Q: This issue is focussed around Cross Country racing and the specific XCO discipline. What would you say set XCO racing apart from other formats and why do you enjoy it?
XCO racing is definitely faster than other endurance mountain bike disciplines – it’s around 90 minutes of flat-out racing, bumping elbows and being on the absolute limit around every lap. You have to be fast in every aspect of your riding to be successful in XCO. It’s a constant battle of being able to fly downhill and climb really well consistently. It is the Formula1 version of mountain biking and I love every part of trying to get my lap times quicker.
Q: If you weren’t a pro mountain biker, what other sport would you have loved to do and why?
A big side-line hobby is cars, so I think if it wasn’t for mountain bikes I would be doing some form of motorsport to keep the adrenaline going.
Q: Where are you based and what is your favourite trails?
I’m based in Wynberg, Cape Town currently. My favourite trails around the mountain this side would probably be the Tokai bike park closely followed by the Glen Trail (close to the four-way split between the cable car, Signal Hill, Cape Town and Camps Bay). If I go a little further it would be a tough one to pick a favourite – but Jonkershoek has some incredible riding which I love going back for.
Q: 2018 is another big year for local cycling with the UCI World Cup in Stellenbosch – how has your prep been and what are you expecting from your competitors?
The prep has been really good for me so far, I definitely think exploring a little marathon racing at the end of 2017 has benefitted me. I’m still in my build phase before I get to the real intensity, but so far everything is on track and I’m excited to get out and race! I’m not quite sure what to expect from my competition, having a World Cup in March really mixes the season up. A lot of the European riders would have just come off of a Cyclocross season and us Commonwealth riders would be fully prepped for the Games just a month later. So I’m excited to see how it plays out!
Q: You and Matt Beers claimed an emphatic victory during the Cape Pioneer Trek. Why do you think you guys did so well as a team? What were the highlights of the event for you?
The main reason would be that we were flatmates and we essentially did every training session together both on and off the bike at the gym. This allowed us to really know where our limits were and where our strengths and weaknesses are. During the Pioneer I knew that if I made a move Matt would follow because we both came in with the same form. Matt’s marathon experience obviously was a huge help, especially since he had raced Pioneer before, so he knew what to expect and sort of guided me along. I think the highlight was probably the TT stage, although it didn’t quite go to plan because we paced ourselves for the wrong route profile and got stuck in a little mud section – we both had a good laugh afterwards at our mistakes but luckily, we still managed to win the stage!
Q: If you are not cycling or training, where is the most likely place we could find you – especially over a weekend?
That would be a really rare occasion, ha-ha! Probably would be out on the trails hiking or taking a drive around the mountain exploring some of the Cape (I’ve only lived in Cape Town for a year).
Q: What weaknesses will you be focussing on during your off-season?
I’m trying to focus a little more on my stability by doing a lot more single leg exercises in the gym. This should translate hopefully to a better power output, but only time will tell!
Q: You are riding for Team Spur … how often do you actually get to indulge in any take-aways and what is your perfect cheat meal and snack?
Ha-ha, I normally only have cheat meals during my off-season which is a three-week period of the year where I don’t have to be so strict with my diet. I must admit after a big block of training (two to three weeks) and if I feel like I deserve it, a slice of cheesecake goes down really well!