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  1. France’s Loana Lecomte maintained her perfect start to the 2021 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup XCO season with a dominant win in the Elite Women’s race in Les Gets on Sunday, while the Elite Men’s race was won in equally commanding fashion by Swiss rider Mathias Flückiger with South African Alan Hatherly riding to fourth place on the podium. View full article
  2. With new features adding an extra dimension to the Les Gets track and the rain falling heavily, the riders faced a tough challenge to tame the demanding course. Mathias Flückiger performs at UCI XCO World Cup in Les Gets. Photo credit: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool. Elite Men In the Men’s Elite, Flückiger came into the race full of confidence having excelled in Leogang and claimed victory in the Short Track on Friday. The Swiss rider didn’t get off to the best start as Ondrej Cink, Luca Braidot, Alan Hatherly, Vlad Descalu and Nino Schurter all looked to make their move on the opening lap. Ondrej Cink. Photo credit: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool. But when Flückiger attacked on the treacherous off-camber grass towards the end of the lap it was like he had found an extra gear and extra grip that no other rider had. World Champion Jordan Sarrou was riding on home soil and, buoyed by the French crowds, rode up into a podium position on lap two. Sarrou and Hatherly were separated by just a few seconds for most of the race, while Cink crept clear ahead and Schurter slipped a little way back, battling with Daniele Braidot for fifth. Alan Hatherly. Photo credit: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool. As the riders battled to stay upright and the conditions worsened, Flückiger secured his second consecutive perfect weekend of World Cup racing with a mix of fun whips and safe dismounts on the final lap. Cink was once again second, crossing the line 25-seconds back with the smile and clenched fist of a job well done, while a final lap attack from Sarrou secured third place and a huge cheer from the French supporters. Flückiger said: “I took a lot of confidence from the last World Cup and from this season. Today was special with the changed conditions. I’m really happy with my performance, everything came together again today.” Men's Podium. Photo credit: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool. Elite Women In the women's race, Rocio Del Alba Garcia Martinez set the pace up the starting climb, quickly establishing a gap on the opening lap. Jenny Rissveds was leading the chase and soon overtook the Spanish rider, only to see Lecomte storm in front, just as she did in Albstadt, Nové Město and Leogang. Loana Lecomte performs at UCI XCO World Cup in Les Gets. Photo credit: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool. The young French rider went on to dominate the race, securing a 21-second lead over the chasing duo of Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Bec McConnell by the end of lap three. Ferrand-Prevot had shown brilliant power to win the Short Track on Friday but was struggling a little in the conditions and began to slip back down the field, with Rissveds climbing into second and Evie Richards moving into third. Lecomte was managing the pressure and the conditions with confidence and maturity, posting the fastest time every lap. However, further back there was some late drama when Ferrand-Prevot and McConnell came together near the finish. Jenny Rissveds. Photo credit: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool. Ferrand-Prevot managed to get out of the tangle ahead to take fourth place and McConnell took fifth. For Lecomte, it was four wins from four races this season, while Rissveds high-fived the crowd as she came in second and Richards recorded her best ever XCO result with third. Lecomte, 21, said: “It’s very special to race a World Cup in France and I’m very, very happy to win in front of my family and friends. Because of Friday’s race, I was a little anxious and stressed but we found the solution.” Evie Richards. Photo credit: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool. Women's podium. Photo credit: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool. The riders return to action in XCC and XCO at Lenzerheide from September 3-5. Women’s XCO result 1. Loana Lecomte FRA 1hr27m23s 2. Jenny Rissveds SWE +0.51s 3. Evie Richards GBR +1.10 4. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot FRA + 1.51s 5. Rebecca McConnell AUS + 1.55s Women's XCO standings 1. Loana Lecomte FRA 1330 points 2. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot FRA 955 3. Jenny Rissveds SWE 780 4. Haley Batten USA 755 5. Rebecca McConnell AUS 710 Men’s XCO result 1. Mathias Fluckiger SUI 1hr27m33s 2. Ondrej Cink CZE +0.25s 3. Jordan Sarrou FRA +0.35s 4. Alan Hatherly RSA +0.39s 5. Nino Schurter SUI +1.21s Men's XCO standings 1. Mathias Flueckiger SUI 1169 points 2. Ondrej Cink CZE 934 3. Jordan Sarrou FRA 790 4. Victor Koretzky FRA 745 5. Nino Schurter SUI 734
  3. It’s no secret that COVID-19 has decimated the racing calendar over the last 12 months but it is great to see Factory Racing Teams making moves to strengthen their squads ahead of what will hopefully be a fierce 2021 World Cup season. The Cannondale Factory Racing Team recently announced the signing of Alan Hatherly, winner of the 2018 U23 Cross Country World Championships and the 2019 e-MTB XCO UCI World Championships, among many other accolades. We caught up with Alan between training camps to get the low down on his new race machine, the 2021 Cannondale Scalpel Hi-Mod 1. [h2]Alan Hatherly's Cannondale 2021 Scalpel Hi-Mod 1[/h2] [spec_list][spec_list_row='Frame']Cannondale 2021 Scalpel Hi-Mod 1[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Fork']Lefty Ocho Carbon 100mm[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Shock']Fox Float DPS Factory EVOL, 100mm[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Rims']Enve M525 Carbon[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Rear Hub']DT Swiss 240s[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Front Hub']Lefty[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Front Tyre']Schwalbe Racing Ralph 29 x 2.25[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Rear Tyre']Schwalbe Racing Ralph 29 x 2.25[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Handlebar']Enve M5 720mm[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Stem']Enve 90mm[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Seatpost']Cannondale Dropper Post[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Saddle']Prologo Scratch M5 Space[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Brakes']Shimano XTR M9100[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Rotors']Shimano RT 81 160mm[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Shifter']Shimano XTR[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Rear derailleur']Shimano XTR[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Cassette']Shimano XTR 10 - 51T 12-Speed[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Crank arms']Shimano XTR with Stages powermeter[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Chain']Shimano XTR[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Chainring']Shimano XTR 36T[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Pedals']Shimano XTR[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Bottle cages']Cannondale carbon[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Weight']9.76kg (without pedals)[/spec_list_row][/spec_list] Cannondale has significantly updated the Scalpel range, a frame that has become famous from winning races all over the world since 2001 and garnering an almost cult-like following. Alan’s Scalpel features Cannondale’s iconic Ocho Lefty carbon fork with a significant practical update, the StopLock release system which quickly frees the brake and mount for easy removal of the front wheel. The rear shock is the industry-leading Fox Float DPS Factory EVOL 100mm but the most interesting part of the rear suspension technology is the updated rear triangle. It features what Cannondale call their “FlexPivot” chainstays. Basically, the chainstays flatten out at the rear to add more flex. This also means the rear triangle has fewer pivots and bearings, significantly reducing frame weight and maintenance requirements. The geometry on the 2021 Scalpel frame has been updated to feature Cannondale's “OutFront” steering geometry. This means that the head tube angle is slightly slacker than previous Scalpels, among other tweaks. In conjunction with the longer Lefty fork offset, Cannondale claims that the new geometry has significantly increased traction and rider confidence. It is no surprise to find Shimano’s race-focussed XTR 12-speed groupset fitted with a 10-51t rear cassette and 36t front chainring. The matted XTR shifters share space on the handlebars with remote suspension lockouts and a lever for the Cannondale dropper post. Interestingly, the chain guide has been reduced from a closed cage to just a block which appears to act more like a limiter. The XTR cranks are also matted with a Stages crank arm for power readings, and lightweight XTR cross-country pedals. The front hub is the Lefty 60 and the rear hub is the highly regarded DT Swiss 240s. Both hubs are laced to Enve's M525 carbon rim via Hologram spokes. Schwalbe Racing Ralph 29 x 2.25 tan walls finish off this lightweight wheelset. The cockpit features the Enve M Series carbon handlebar and stem that is found on across the Factory Racing Team bikes. No need to change a good thing right? With all the race team updates, the claimed weight (excluding pedals) on this 2021 Scalpel is 9.76 kg.
  4. ROLA Motor Group are putting their money where their mouth is in a big way by supporting some of SA’s best athletes. In a sport where sponsorship is often hard to come by it is great to see a company backing our local cycling legends as much as they do. We caught up with Alan Hatherly after he took delivery of his Toyota Hilux 2.4 GD6 double cab to chat about 2020 as a pro rider and what he has lined up for the future with his new team, Cannondale Factory Racing. Click here to view the article
  5. Bike Hub: 2020 was a tough year for everyone, how have you stayed motivated with so few races? 2020 was an insane year that’s for sure. So many times back to the drawing board to reassess the current situation and rebuild a new game plan. For me the challenge of adjusting to indoor riding was a big motivation. I really enjoyed the change and still use what I’ve learnt during that time today. Additionally - knowing that we had so few races really was a motivation booster. Since the race ‘season’ was so condensed I really had to commit 110% and be in the best shape possible, which I’m really glad I was and that it worked out the way it did with me grabbing my first Elite World Cup podium after such a tricky build up. Alan Hatherly BH: Tell us about that World Cup podium result. You're no stranger to podiums, but this was your first at Elite level and in a turbulent year. With only two World Cup XCO races last year it must have been all the more special. It was an unreal moment for me as it’s been a career goal for many years to one day reach an elite World Cup podium. To achieve it after such an insane year is really special to me and it’s definitely lifted my personal goals and expectations for the 2021 season. My eyes are set now on building towards podium/close to podium consistency throughout the season. AH BH: 2021 looks to be a huge year with the Olympic Games, how has your preparation gone so far? So far 2021 has been a little bit like last year with closed borders and travelling being difficult. I’m really hoping to head over to Europe soon to get some international racing done with the Cannondale Factory Racing crew. Having no races so far this year has opened up my preparation period and I’ve managed to really capitalise on that so far fortunately. The season has shifted a little later with Cape Epic now being in October which I think works out really well for me actually because I can now focus fully on my World Cup and Olympic aspirations for this season. So far all looks good to go ahead with the Olympics so I’m really excited to see the game plan start coming together! AH BH: Your team sponsorships are of course vital, but what do sponsors like Rola Motor Group mean for you as an athlete? Partnerships like Rola Motor Group are invaluable. The journey, friendship and networking opportunities that are presented really allow me to expand my brand awareness while giving back to Rola. The group is passionate about cycling which makes the vision, projects and engagement that much better for the relationship. Obviously it’s also really amazing to be able to drive incredible new cars around like my current vehicle - the 2021 Toyota Hilux 2.4 Raider 4x4! AH BH: 2021 also sees you racing with a new team, how did that come about? I was up for renewal of my current contract and it opened a door for discussion with the Cannondale Factory Racing team. The team always appealed to me with how they operate, always delivering when it counts the most, and the good vibes around the crew at all times. They also have had legends of the sport in their colours and I’m really honoured to be wearing those colours for the years ahead! So far it’s been an amazing adjustment and I’m looking forward to hitting the start line and levelling up around my power team mates Henrique Avanicini, Manuel Fumic and Simon Andreassen. AH BH: What are you looking forward to the most with the new team? Learning from the crew and my teammates so I can keep progressing and working towards some top World Cup results consistently. It’s going to be a dream when the four of us CFR riders are rolling together at the World Cups and at the Cape Epic later this year when we go for yellow! AH BH: In closing, what advice would you give your teenage self trying to come through the ranks into professional cycling. Patience is the key! Steady progression is worth more than having one stand out year and then disappearing into the back of the field. Also get as much international exposure as you can because the adjustment to the level and depth of field takes a lot of time but if you work step by step you’ll find yourself working your way towards the sharp end of the field. The South African level is really high, it’s just a matter of executing that level and still going fast when you’re around 100 riders! AH This feature was made possible by the Rola Motor Group.Make use of their Online Car Services for: Buying new, demo or pre-owned vehicles. Selling your current car. Vehicle Finance solutions or servicing a vehicle: They also provide Bicycle finance. https://www.rola.co.za/
  6. We caught up with Alan to get the low down on his new machine, the 2021 Cannondale Scalpel Hi-Mod 1. View full article
  7. Alan Hatherly of Kargo Pro MTB Team. Credit: Tyron Mackenzie. 20-year old Hatherly will be competing in the Pro Elite Men’s Cross Country Mountain Bike race on Sunday, 21 August 2016. Hatherly is currently ranked 10th U23 Men in the world and achieved a 17th position finish (U23 Men) in the recent UCI MTB World Championships in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic. He is also currently in contention for the South African Men’s XCO Champion title at the SA MTB XCO Championships taking place at the Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg, KZN this weekend. “This announcement is a huge milestone for cycling in South Africa, and particularly for the Kargo team,” says team founder and owner of Peschl Sports, Shaun Peschl. “As the first registered UCI team in South Africa, we have produced Provincial XCO Champions (Gauteng and KZN), South African XCO Champions (Junior, U23, Elite), African XCO Champions (U23) and now and after 5 years of hard work together with our team sponsor, Kargo, we have achieved our goal of delivering an Olympic athlete.” “This is a tremendous milestone for us and, while the team will continue to compete in XCO, we will also direct our professionalism and expertise into developing South African Marathon Champions and qualifying for the UCI MTB World Marathon Championships, also with the goal of producing Cape Epic winners in both the male and female categories in the near future. “Another important objective for 2017 is to sign a number of new ladies’ riders and to put a concerted effort into developing women’s cycling in South Africa, together with our equipment partner, Liv.” “Qualifying for Rio is a dream come true for me,” says Alan. “With the support of my team and coach, I’ve worked really hard this year- being consistent is a huge factor, it takes a lot of discipline and patience to become an Olympic athlete. I’m looking forward to training and preparing over the next five weeks and I can’t believe I will be fortunate enough to experience and compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics.” Shaun Peschl and Alan Hatherly at the 2nd KZN XCO Series race. Credit Tyron Mackenzie. “Greg, Leigh, and the staff at Kargo National would like to congratulate Alan Hatherly on being chosen for the Olympics. This is an outstanding achievement and we are extremely proud that the hard work put into the Kargo Pro Cycling team by Shaun Peschl and all those involved has paid off with one of our own being chosen,” says Leigh Oliveira on behalf of Kargo National. His family, who are his greatest support system – from his early years of cycling to encouraging him to pursue the sport professionally, is equally excited. “The announcement by SASCOC that Alan will be representing South Africa at the Olympic Games is one of the proudest moments for us as a family. Alan has always shown a potential to be great and this was one of his goals that he set out for himself many years ago, and we are proud as parents to have been alongside him all of the way seeing him grow into an outstanding athlete.” “Alan has been nothing but a 100% athlete,” says coach John Wakefield of Science Sport. “We’ve been working very hard over the last few months, correcting small things to make a big difference later on, and it’s all come together now. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do at the Olympics.” Alan Hatherly as a young rider. “We would like to thank all our sponsors – Kargo, Giant, Shimano, Hoopers VW, RSA Web, Mavic, Continental, Adidas Eyewear, On the Go, Ciovita custom cycling apparel, High5 Sports Nutrition, Unior Tools, Squirt, and GO! Durban, for their tremendous ongoing support in making the team’s goals a reality. We would also like to thank Cycling South Africa and the Elite Athlete Development Programme (EADP) and KZN MTB for all their input and support of Alan and the team,” says Peschl.Amanda Davis of Giant Bicycles has added her congratulations, saying, “Giant South Africa are immensely proud and excited to be part of Alan Hatherly’s Olympic selection for Rio 2016 through our Giant bicycle sponsorship of the Kargo team. He has had an excellent year of riding and we are excited that he achieved these results on his Giant Anthem Advanced 29er. Congratulations to Alan and we hope he has a fantastic experience in Rio – he is blasting a trail through South African mountain biking.” “Super proud of the Kargo team, the team owner Shaun, and Alan,” says Greg Kemp, KZN representative for Shimano and Giant. “All the hard work from the rider and sponsors’ perspective has been worth it!” We at Hoopers VW are proud to be associated with not one, but now another Olympic athlete in Alan Hatherly from the Kargo Pro Cycling Team. The directors and staff at Hoopers wish to congratulate him on his selection for the Rio 2016 Olympic SA Team and would like to wish him everything of the best in his endeavours in his chosen discipline of Mountainbiking. This is possibly just the start of things to come for this young man,” says Dave Johnson of Hoopers VW. For more information visit http://www.peschlracing.com or contact Shaun Peschl: shaun@peschlracing.com. For live updates and results follow the team on Twitter (@KARGOPROMTBTEAM) and Instagram (kargo_pro_cycling_team).
  8. Cannondale Factory Racing is ready for 2021 and beyond. World #1 Henrique Avancini and veteran teammate Manuel Fumic are joined by former junior CX and XC World Champion Simon Andreassen (DEN) and former U23 & E-bike World Champion Alan Hatherly (RSA) on the CFR roster. Both additions to the team had breakout results in 2020, with Andreassen winning his first Elite XCO World Cup and Alan securing an Elite XCO World Cup podium. The newly formed team spent two weeks together for a small team camp to prepare for the 2021 season, where the focus will be on the UCI MTB XC World Cup, UCI World Championships, the Olympic games in Tokyo and the ABSA Cape Epic in October. This is really a dream come true to be wearing the Cannondale colors for the upcoming season and beyond. Excitement levels are high for this new journey alongside powerhouse teammates! I can’t wait for the season to commence and to get racing on the new machine with some big goals in place for the 2021 season. I’m confident that I’m going to level up and learn in this space which is also really exciting. Alan Hatherly It’s with such excitement and honor that I am joining Cannondale Factory Racing. One of those scenarios where reality beats imagination. It’s a complete game changer for me - especially after being on the first team camp and seeing how professionally the team works and how much fun we have together. Simon Andreassen It’s great to see young guys with so much talent and willing to work hard toward their goals. With their talent and the Cannondale Factory Racing way of working, they going to have the tools to become important and significant athletes for our sport. CFR has developed a great working method and I believe Alan and Simon are going to have the best environment for their development. They both know what it takes to win. They both showed how fast they can go. Now it’s about learning how to be consistent and built a solid career. They add a lot of freshness and I truly believe they going to find the finest expertise on how to get the work done. CFR future looks great. Henrique Avancini Having Alan and Simon on board for 2021 and beyond, alongside World #1 Henrique Avancini, and Manuel Fumic was the next logical step for CFR. Simon and Alan are 2 of the most promising up and coming riders from the U23 and already delivered Elite World Cup podium performances in 2020. Every single rider on the team has been a World Champion in their careers already. We expect some great things from this new team composition and the fun and laughs we had at team camp are a good indicator to be on the right track. Daniel Hespeler (CFR Team Manager)
  9. Image credit: Meraki Media Having previously raced at Thaba Trails on his return from injury in March 2018, Hatherly noted some exciting new features to the otherwise dangerous course. "It is a classic Johannesburg track with sharp and loose rocks which are continually changing as riders make their way through the course. It's so easy to miss a line out there and ping a rim, which makes the race a lot more difficult than it needs to be." described Hatherly. In preparation for the previous two World Cup races at altitude, Hatherly had completed an altitude training block in the Free State and was thankful for his build up. " Having done the altitude training and then two World Cup races at altitude, it certainly helped keep the lungs intact for a good race." explains Hatherly. Hailing from Cape Town, Hatherly is weary of the affects altitude can have while trying to go flat out in a race situation. "Maintenance and consistency is key while racing at altitude." explains Hatherly. Image credit: Meraki Media In between the two high intensity World Cup races and long haul flights back to South Africa, Hatherly has had to manage both his form and fatigue in the build up to one of his top goal races of the year. "I have been struggling the past few weeks to keep my body on track, but thankfully some recovery during the week was enough to get me ready for the race. It's really important to me to keep the South African Flag on my chest, and I put a lot of personal pressure on myself to deliver the goods." described Hatherly. The narrow course at Thaba Trails does not offer much room for overtaking and Alan laid down a good start to put himself in the driving seat. "With so much single track on course, dead wheels and gaps form quickly so I knew I would have to work to get a gap on the rest of the field and then focus on extending and maintaining my lead." explains Hatherly. "With the risk of mechanicals, I needed to make sure I had a safe and controlled race, while keeping the pressure on." Image credit: Meraki Media Having made a gap on lap one, Hatherly lead from start to finish and is happy with his consistency over the seven laps. It was Jan Withaar who took the early charge behind Alan in second, and although briefly changing places with Philip Buys, it was Withaar who finished in second with Buys rounding off the podium in third. "It was a decent win margin of just over a minute, but a bit close for comfort as if anything had gone wrong it would have put the whole race in jeopardy." reflects Hatherly. "To come away with another National Title is a huge honour and I'm really looking forward to wearing the South African Flag on my chest at the upcoming International races." As Hatherly wraps up his local Cross-Country season, he shifts focus to the remainder of the World Cup races. "I have this weekend off from racing before I head back to Europe for the Italian and Swiss rounds, from there we head over to Canada and America at the end of August for World Champs and the final round of the World Cup in Snowshoe, USA."
  10. Image Credit: Michal Cerveny On Friday, Alan played a more tactical game so as not to not be enticed into the excitement upfront. “I took what I learned in Albstadt where I went out too hard and paid the price when the split occurred.” explained Hatherly. “I’m happy with my timing on the last few laps when I chose to move up and I was able to claim eighth place.” A first front row start in the Elite ranks for Alan and a solid points haul moves Alan up in the overall ranking, where after the XCO, he now sits in 20th overall. Image Credit: Michal Cerveny Hatherly’s front row start in the XCO, aided his positioning in the manic start and he was able to put in a good start loop and lap one. “I sort of rode the whole race at the same speed as lap one. I have really good form and I’m able to recover well on the descents, but laying down the extra power to fight for positions is just not something I can do right now.” Reflects Hatherly. There are certainly positives to take home from the two weeks of racing in the Elite field. “The jump from U23 to Elites is not something to be underestimated. I have the endurance for the extra lap which we do in an Elite race, I just need to work on the middle of the race so I can move up the field as well as hold my position when the pace surges." Explained Hatherly The World Cups season has a brief respite during June before it heads into the mountains of Andorra for round three on 5 July. “With the altitude factor in Andorra I am going to have to do some homework when I get back this week and try get some altitude training in.” Explained Hatherly. Riders are required to manage their efforts even closer when racing at altitude. Should they go into the red, the lack of oxygen makes recovery exceptionally hard. On the whole, to walk away having made improvements between Albstadt and Nove Mesto is a step in the right direction. “To improve in both the XCC and XCO over the two weekends is a huge positive. I definitely have a few things to tweak up, but from previous years, to be firing on all cylinders in May makes the season really long for me come September and World Champs.” Explained Hatherly.Alan returns to South Africa this week where he will focus on the upcoming block of World Cup races, and travel to Pietermaritzburg over 15-16 June for the double race weekend of the SA XCO Cup Series Round Five.
  11. Image: Michal Cerveny The familiar Albstadt course which is known for its punchy and steep climbs, has received a major overhaul this year. "The organizers have made the track a lot smoother and faster, so spectator wise it should make for more exciting racing." described Alan. "I'm looking forward to getting on my new hardtail this weekend, I think it will be much faster on the climbs and with the more manicured trails you don't need as much support from the full-suspension." Hatherly's first challenge will come on Friday evening at 18:15 (SA time) for the Short Track race (XCC). This flat out thirty minute dash is an exciting race to watch as the finish order determines where riders will line up for Sunday's Cross-Country Race (XCO). "I'm quite nervous for the Short Track, it will be my first one so I'm not too sure what to expect other than some burning legs." joked Hatherly. "I will be starting on the second row so that should put me in a good position for a top finish." Riders who finish in the top twenty four will be treated to a start on the front three rows for the XCO- this would be a dream come true for any first year Elite rider. A slight change from the UCI this year sees the short track numbers being issued from twenty five onwards, leaving numbers one to twenty four to be re-issued to the top finishers ahead of the XCO on Sunday. Image: Michal Cerveny The main event starts at 14:35 on Sunday as the Elite Men line up for their 7 laps of the fast course. "I'm excited to get the World Cups underway, I think I've fully recovered from the Cape Epic and managed to transfer the fatigue into some solid form and get the speed going again." explained the 2018 U23 World Champion. The first World Cup often delivers an exciting showdown as riders are eager to display their form and ability. Add in the stress of qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and we have a recipe for incredible racing. Alongside the changes to the track, the weather forecast has been on everyone's minds. With day time temperatures consistently hitting around six degrees, and rain scheduled for Friday and Sunday, we are sure to see some fireworks. "Coming from Cape Town where I've been riding in eighteen degrees, it's been a big shock to ride in such cold temperatures." described Alan. "Albstadt is probably the slipperiest course in the wet so I think it will create havoc if the rain does come through." Despite the cool temperatures, Hatherly is in good form for his weekend exploits. "I did some opening intervals earlier this week and I hit all the numbers I was looking for." reflected Hatherly. "That definitely calms the nerves somewhat, but the buzz you get on the start line will no doubt be just as noticeable." With both the Elite Short Track and XCO races streamed live on Red Bull TV, be sure to watch all the action and keep an eye out for Alan's SA Champs jersey here.
  12. Alan Hatherly's Specialized S-Works Epic FrameS-Works EpicForkRockShox SID WC with BrainShockRockShox/Specialized Micro BrainWheelsetRoval Control SLTyresSpecialized Fast Trak GRID 2.1HandlebarSpecialized S-Works CarbonStemSpecialized S-Works 120mm 17 degreeGripSupaCazHeadset CapCarbon Ti SeatpostSpecialized S-Works CarbonSaddleS-Works Romin EVOBrakesMagura MT8 RacelineBrake rotors160mmShifterSRAM XX1 EagleRear derailleurSRAM XX1 EagleCassetteSRAM XX1 EagleCrank armsROTOR 2INpowerChainringROTOR 36TChainSRAM XX1 EaglePedalsShimano XTRBottle cagesSpecialized S-Works Carbon Zee Cage II The Specialized Epic’s hallmark feature is the Brain suspension in both the fork and shock. As might be expected from one of the world’s best racers, Hatherly sets his Brain to maximum firmness for racing. Hatherly's bike is equiped with a RockShox SID World Cup with the shock being a collaboration between RockShox and Specialized. The German company Magura are the brake supplier to team Specialized Racing with the luminous yellow Magura MT8 Raceline caliper immediately catching the eye on Hatherly's otherwise black and red bike. The MT8 Raceline brake lever has a sporty carbon construction. Hatherly's Epic is dressed with a SRAM XX1 Eagle 12-speed drivetrain with the exception of a ROTOR 2INpower crankset, which measures power output on the crank axle, and a 36T ROTOR direct mount chainring. Hatherly secures his feet with Shimano XTR pedals. The Specialized owned wheel brand Roval supply Specailzed Racing with their wheels. Hatherly is kitted with the Control SL carbon wheelset with the rear hub utilising DT Swiss's fast engaging 54T ratchet system. Alan is racing the Cape Epic on Specialized Fast Trak tyres with a 2.1 inch width and the tougher GRID casing option. The cockpit is an all Specialized affair with a S-Works seatpost, handlerbar, stem, and saddle. Specialized has a large selection of saddles to choose from and Hatherly has elected to sit upon the S-Works Romin EVO road saddle for the Cape Epic. The Epic frame caters for two bottle cages and Specialized's SWAT box which can squeeze a (small) tube, tyre levers, multitool, and CO2 canister with adaptor.
  13. Alan Hatherly. Photo credit: Etienne Schoeman. Having spent four years in the Spur Schools League as a high school student the South African and 2018 Under 23 XCO World Champion is undoubtedly the series’ greatest success story to date. At the 2019 Absa Cape Epic Hatherly will take the next step in his career, racing alongside former U23 XCO World Champion, Sam Gaze. The pair are however not just racing for themselves, they are riding for good causes – in the form of The Specialized Foundation and the Spur Schools League. The Specialized Foundation was founded by Specialized’s Founder and CEO Mike Sinyard in 2014. The foundation uses cycling as a tool for children to achieve academic, health and social success. Together with the Stanford Medical School and the cutting-edge work of RTSG Neuroscience Consultants The Specialized Foundation are looking into the treatment options for ADHD and using cycling as a tool to mitigate its effects. Over the past few years, they have brought this concept to life by working with schools across the United States to create cycling programs through their Riding for Focus initiative. In South Africa, the Spur Schools League is a phenomenal success story. In 2018 over 5 000 individual students, from 500 primary and high schools across the country, took part in Schools League events. In total, 20 000 race entries were received during the 60 event provincial series, which culminated with the Inter-School Final at Bekker High School in Magaliesburg. Hatherly was in attendance at the 2018 final; showing off his freshly acquired world champion’s rainbow stripes. Alan Hatherly. Photo credit: Michal Cerveny. Though Hatherly no longer rides for Team Spur his association with the Spur Schools League continues. As an ambassador for the league Hatherly will continue to inspire the next generation South African of mountain biking talent. While Spur Steak Ranches have extended their support of the league, which they helped found in 2008, to at least 2027. Hatherly and Gaze’s Absa Cape Epic quest carries triple goals. The foremost of those is for the two young riders to gain valuable experience which will stand them good stead when they return for a tilt at the title in years to come. They do not line up entirely without pressure to perform however, Hatherly and Gaze will also be supporting the defending Absa Cape Epic champions Jaroslav Kulhavý and Howard Grotts in their bid to retain the yellow jerseys. The final and perhaps most important goal to mountain bikers and fans of the sport is their association with The Specialized Foundation and the Spur Schools League. The invaluable work done by both programmes to facilitate and encourage children to take up cycling is impossible without the publicity which star athletes like Hatherly and Gaze generate. The Specialized Foundation will be raising funds for their Riding for Focus programmes throughout the 2019 Absa Cape Epic. While the presence of Hatherly, a league graduate, in the event will no doubt continue to inspire Spur Schools League competitors to pursue their cycling dreams. Sam Gaze. Photo credit: Michal Cerveny. Speaking ahead of the 2019 race Hatherly said: "I’m really excited to be racing the Absa Cape Epic. After living in Cape Town for the past 2 years, Table Mountain has become a part of my weekly training routes; so starting off with the Prologue there is going to be really special.” Showing that even World Champions suffer from the fear of mission out he divulged: “I’ve watched my training partner [NAD Pro MTB’s Matt Beers] race the last two years so I’m stoked to be taking part now and alongside the power house Sam Gaze. I’m excited to see how the race unfolds for us!" Adding his voice to that of Hatherly’s Gaze revealed: “2019 will be my first Absa Cape Epic.” That does not mean the New Zealander is unfamiliar with the region and terrain however. “I’ve used Stellenbosch for my spring training base for a number of years, so I have seen a lot of the race and how impressive the event really is. To be able to finally jump on the start line this year is something I’m really excited about. Specialized has its strongest ever line up with three different teams, something I’m sure which will become important in the closing stages. Alan and myself have the honour of flying the colours for The Specialized Foundation, giving some sentimental value to the week. For this year, it’s about soaking up as much as I can, so that next season I can come back and attempt to really make my mark on the race. See you all in the sunny Western Cape” he concluded. The Specialized Foundation team is exceptionally proud to have Hatherly and Gaze racing for their cause. “I founded The Specialized Foundation on the profound belief that cycling changes lives,” said Mike Sinyard, Founder and CEO of Specialized. “Imagine a day in the near future when doctors prescribe a bike ride as treatment for ADHD. This is bigger than Specialized. This is about how the cycling industry can come together to change the world for the better — and we’re inviting everyone to join us in making that happen.” For more information on The Specialized Foundation please visit www.specializedfoundation.org, while to find out more about the Spur Schools League click on www.spurmtbleague.co.za.
  14. From Left to Right: Nic Lamond, Ariane Lüthi, Alan Hatherly, JP Jacobs, Sacha du Plessis (Group Marketing Executive, Spur Group), Khakhi Diala (Sponsorship and Events Manager, Spur Group), Tim Bassingthwaighte What a ride! Team Spur has been nothing short of an amazing rollercoaster since late 2015. When Spur's marketing man, Sacha du Plessis and I first sat together in the Spur offices and developed the basic idea of supporting the wildly successful Spur Schools Mountain Bike League with a professional cycling team, we had no idea of the profound journey we would be embarking on. But from that moment on, as a team, we proudly went into battle knowing the Spur family had our back. Spur's decision to trust its brand to our care on mountain bike courses at home and across the globe was a risky one, driven by Sacha's passion for the sport, but also his commitment to community upliftment and the family values Spur has built its reputation on. It was a decision that I believe paid off in so many ways, not only in the impressive list of race podiums and victories we soon notched up, but in the profound impact we had on thousands of school children in South Africa through the Spur Schools League. While I am saddened by the closing of the unforgettable Team Spur chapter, I take great pride in the spirit and success of the team, both on the racing circuit and off it. We have built strong and lasting relationships with all our sponsors over the past three years, and we will continue to cherish these connections. I have no doubt that all members of our close-knit team will go on to achieve even greater things in the industry and in their professional careers. In the beginning all I had was the commitment from Spur, and the ambition of three talented and passionate people: athletes James Reid and Ariane Lüthi, and mechanical wizard JP Jacobs. We were soon joined by soigneur Brent Botha and we set to work building a supportive team of professionals focused on the team's motto: "world class in all we do". 2018 is arguably Team Spur's most successful year, yet the confidence to go out there and compete at the top level of the sport was built from the very beginning and Ariane Lüthi's 2016 Absa Cape Epic victory alongside Annika Langvad for Team Spur-Specialized, paved the way for subsequent triumphs. James Reid's and JP Jacob's selection to represent Team South Africa at the Rio Olympic Games in August 2016 was another key building block on the pathway to success. Team Spur-Specialized's Ariane Lüthi (right) and Annika Langvad stand atop the final podium of the 2016 Absa Cape Epic. Image: Nick Muzik It is never plain sailing, and team manager and soigneur Brent Botha left for a great opportunity at the Israel Cycling Academy in late 2016. The talented James Reid left us shortly afterwards to pursue his studies... and we were suddenly reeling. But these things happen for a reason and we were lucky to find the unflappable Tim Bassingthwaighte and employ him as our new team manager. We then acquired the services of Reid's fellow Olympic teammate, a young talent called Alan Hatherly, who joined us from January 2017. 2017 was another significant learning curve as Ariane struggled to realise her potential on the international marathon circuit, grappling with depression as she bravely faced the world's finest female mountain bikers week in and week out. Meanwhile, Alan, JP and Tim claimed African and South African XCO titles while quietly building their race craft on the UCI U23 Word Cup circuit. A second place at the exhilarating Andorran round of the World Cup for Alan gave us all a glimpse of the prize we were fighting for, while another second, but this time at the UCI U23 World Championship in Australia was the real sign we were on track! Hatherly teamed up with his training buddy Matt Beers for South Africa's seven-day Cape Pioneer Trek stage race and took a hard-fought victory during the grueling race. But the most satisfying result of 2017 was Ariane's victory at the same race, where she partnered Amy Beth McDougall. It marked a return to form for our Swiss powerhouse and the start of a mental comeback process that would bear fruit in 2018. 2018 was a long and hard season of racing. And Team Spur dealt with myriad setbacks and challenges, only to rise against adversity every time. The calendar kicked off in January with Ariane's victory at the grueling Attakwas Extreme. Alan was up next and continued his trajectory with a strong showing at the SA XCO Cup, finishing fifth behind a strong international field that included multiple World Champion and Olympic gold medalist Nino Schurter. The three-day Tankwa Trek was a reality check of the brutal nature of high-performance sport. Ariane's 2018 Absa Cape Epic partner suffered a blood infection and had to withdraw mid-race, while Alan was rushed to hospital during the final stage with two broken wrists. The pressure was now on. Firstly, to find a high-calibre replacement partner for Ariane for the Absa Cape Epic. And secondly, to get Alan race-ready to fly the South African flag at the Commonwealth Games in April. Despite a strong start to the Cape Epic for Team Spur, consistently taking the race to the eventual Women's Category winners, Ariane's partner was forced to withdraw after Stage 4 due to illness, while the pair were in second place overall. After a well-managed recovery program, Alan returned from potentially season-ending wrist injuries to win the second round of the SA XCO Cup series en-route to the Commonwealth Games in Australia. Alan then ploughed the depths of his mental toughness and exceptional bike skills to record a phenomenal race under the circumstances, earning a bronze medal for his country at the Commonwealth Games in April. Ariane added to the team's tally of bronze medals at the European Marathon Championships in April, where she claimed her best result at the continental competition. In May the European race calendar hit us like a ton of bricks: Alan's World Cup season was at full throttle, while Ariane racked up multiple marathon event wins throughout Europe, including the Belgian Mountain Bike Challenge, as well as her hometown marathon, the Raid Evolenard. In between World Cup races – where he came third in Nove Mesto in the Czech Republic and then won the Canadian round in Mont Sainte Anne – Alan won every local XCO race and retained his South African XCO Championship title in July. Team Spur's Alan Hatherly claims victory at the Canadian round of the UCI U23 XCO World Cup. Image: Michal Červený After a solid block of training, Alan went into his major event of the year as the hot favourite. The UCI U23 XCO World Championships jersey had eluded Alan by a mere 10 seconds in 2017, when he finished second to Kiwi Sam Gaze. He wasn't prepared to settle for silver this time around and put on a tactical and technical masterclass, which saw him ride away from the competition on the final lap and earn the coveted U23 rainbow stripes. Alan and Team Spur brought the jersey back to South Africa for the first time in nine years. Spur recently released a stunning TV ad capturing the story of Alan's journey through the ranks of the Spur League and his stunning comeback story to be crowned U23 World Champion. If you haven't seen it yet, we've got the long version for you below. The Marathon World Championships course in Italy a week after the XCO event was a brutal affair, with over 3,400m of climbing in 89km for the ladies. Ariane finished an impressive sixth, while Alan had to settle for 55th in the even longer men's race, his legs feeling the effects of his sterling XCO effort. Ariane backed up this result a few weeks later at the Swiss Marathon Championships, where she reclaimed her title after a ding-dong battle with multiple World and Swiss Champion Esther Süss. Team Spur returned home to South Africa for the final few stage races on the 2018 calendar. Alan teamed up with young Danish powerhouse and close friend Simon Andreassen for the Cape Pioneer Trek and Wines2Whales in October and November. The two youngsters claimed solid second places at both events. Ariane took on the Wines2Whales with Hungarian rider Barbara Benkó and after an unfortunate one-hour time penalty on Stage 1, the pair finished in fifth place after the three days of racing. Team Spur's Ariane Lüthi and Barbara Benkó claiming victory at the final stage of the 2018 Wines2Whales in Grabouw, South Africa. Image Credit: Greg Beadle The Wines2Whales turned out to be a fitting end to the season and to Team Spur's three-year run of form. Both of our riders finished their final stage in Team Spur colours by winning their categories with their respective partners! I asked the members of Team Spur what their personal highlights over the past three years have been: Ariane Lüthi: "While I could start and conclude my time riding for Team Spur with two career highlights – winning the Cape Epic in early 2016 and reclaiming the Swiss Champion's jersey this year – watching my teammate Alan, with the aid of Tim and JP, grabbing the rainbow stripes end of this year was unreal. I went through a pretty tough time in between. However it was during those two years struggling with depression, that I appreciated the great support of my team, and especially our manager, Nic, the most." Alan Hatherly: "My highlights from Team Spur would be racing two full World Cup seasons and achieving my first World Cup win and World Championship title through the world-class support system the team structure offered. Another highlight would be that I was presented with the opportunity to be involved in assisting the grass roots of cycling in South Africa, through the Spur Schools Mountain Bike League. It really has opened my eyes to the up-and-coming talent our country has." JP Jacobs: "I would say it's been the entire past three years – from winning my first Absa Cape Epic in 2016 to celebrating my biggest career win with a set of rainbow strips at the end of this season. Learning was constantly evolving: understanding the athletes' needs and supplying them with a winning race bike every time. As well as the culture experiences in different nations and realising just how big our world is. Being able to travel the globe and fixing bikes out of a suit case. It's been the best three years so far. Thank you, Nic and Team Spur." Tim Bassingthwaighte: "The last two years with Team Spur has been a huge learning curve and exceptional experience. Seeing first hand the highs and lows of the riders, and what they go through to be able to perform is incredibly motivating for what we do behind the scenes. To see Ariane and Alan bounce back from their respective setbacks to add the Swiss XCM Champs title and a set of rainbow stripes to a humble South African team has been a privilege. Thanks to Nic, Ariane, Alan and JP!" So what's next? Well, we'll leave that to the riders and staff and their new factory teams to announce. Safe to say, you'll get plenty of opportunity to see both Ariane Lüthi and Alan Hatherly racing in their beloved South Africa in 2019. While Team Spur's structure as a fully-fledged professional race team dissolves, the athletes will continue to work with Spur as proud ambassadors to the Spur Schools Mountain Bike League, which will be supported by this amazing organisation for another 10 years! Team Spur's main mission was always to provide inspiration and motivation to the thousands of scholars participating in the Spur Schools League. We believe the League has had a huge impact on the sport in the country, not only at the high-performance level through Team Spur, but in bringing families and communities together, encouraging camaraderie and good-natured rivalry between schools and provinces, and getting children active and into the outdoors in a supportive and healthy way. That is an incredibly positive legacy to leave behind for the future. On a personal level, I feel immensely privileged to have been a part of a professional team that truly cared about one another. The passion and integrity of the team's full-time staff, JP Jacobs and Tim Bassingthwaighte can never be overstated. Their dedication to the team is reflected in the way we supported its riders James Reid, Ariane Lüthi and Alan Hatherly through some profoundly challenging times in their professional careers. Lastly, none of this would have been possible without your support. The engagement on all levels – from our social media pages to the handshakes and backslaps in the pits, to the shouts trackside at race courses around the country and the world. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It may not feel like much, but every connection, whether it was a keystroke, a selfie or a raised voice in the din, was felt by us and pushed us towards our goals. It has been an honour to pursue Team Spur's lofty dreams over the years with you all. Team Spur's Alan Hatherly putting his silky skills to the test at the 2018 Wines2Whales. Image credit: Nick Muzik
  15. Image Credit Michal Cerveny Hatherly claimed the silver medal at last year's World Championships in Cairns, Australia, and was hungry to go one better. "The Swiss course really suits me as you don't get any free speed out there," Alan said of the physically demanding 4km loop through the rooty Seewald forest. "You have to work for everything and it's about carrying speed and being smart about burning matches." Cross-country starts are critical, and in the U23 category the starter's gun signals a frenzied scrum of riders at high speed wanting to assert themselves. The bottlenecks that present themselves early in the Lenzerheide course made the Championship start even more critical. Hatherly used his front row start to manoeuvre himself into second wheel entering the first single track. "If you're any further back than about sixth wheel you'll get caught up in the bottle necking," said Hatherly. Highlights The U23 pre-race favourites and big hitters were all together through the first two laps as they jostled for position. A strong nine-man pack emerged. "The second lap was mayhem as riders took pretty big chances and were not shy to let you know where they wanted to be in the bunch," reflected Hatherly. Having tested his rivals occasionally in the lead and seen who was up to scratch, Hatherly casually moved to the front on Lap 3 and started mixing things up. "I shifted to the front and put some pressure on the climb, but also maintained that pressure through the technical descent and rolling climbs. I think this is where the gap formed as it was soon Chris Blevins [uSA] and I off the front with a few riders behind working to rejoin," said Hatherly. The two Specialized riders worked together as they had done a few weeks ago, when they found themselves in the same situation at the Canadian round of the UCI World Cup series. "We have such a similar ride style, it's awesome to sit at the front and keep the constant pressure on!" Hatherly admitted. The small gaps behind the two leaders soon stretched out substantially, with only Dutch rider David Norderman lurking ominously 20-30 seconds back. Image Credit Michal Cerveny Lap 5 offered a glimpse of how deep Blevins was in the hurt box and Hatherly quickly made plans to exploit the weakness with a monster effort late in the race. "I sat up on Lap 5 to get Chris to come to the front. When he just held my wheel I knew he was in some pain," said Hatherly. Hatherly didn't want the race coming down to a two-up sprint against his American rival, as Blevins' road race pedigree is widely known and he may have had the upper hand with only 100m of tar to cover to the line. Into the final lap Hatherly knew it was now or never, and he buried himself to snap the elastic band connecting him and Blevins for the previous three laps. Hitting the course's first technical sections at pace, Hatherly was able to put six seconds into Blevins. But that wasn't enough and Hatherly went again, forcing the gap out even further as the finish line and its throng of cheering fans grew louder. Hatherly kept pushing and crossed the line comfortable, a full 27 seconds clear of Blevins in second. Claiming the U23 World Championships title and the coveted rainbow jersey is a dream come true for Hatherly: "This is bucket list stuff and something I have dreamed of for years. For it all to come together so well... I am blown away that I actually achieved this win," an elated Hatherly said after the lung-busting effort. "It is kind of a bitter sweet moment however, as I move to the Elite category next year and won't get to rock this [u23] jersey. But to be able to call yourself World Champion is an amazing feeling and I am looking forward to stepping into the big leagues next year," Hatherly said. Alan now shifts focus to UCI Marathon World Champs next weekend, where he will join Team Spur teammate, Swiss marathon specialist Ariane Lüthi, in the Italian Dolomites for the last race in Europe for the year. Summary of Results – 2018 UCI MTB World ChampionshipsMen U23 XCO 1.Alan Hatherly (RSA) 01:21:22 2.Christopher Blevins (USA) +0:27 3.David Nordemann (NED) +1:05 4.Petter Fagerhaug (NOR) +1:24 5.Jonas Lindberg (DEN) +1:28
  16. Last year Hatherly raced to second at the UCI XCO World Championships in Cairns, Australia in a thrilling battle with New Zealander Sam Gaze that went all the way to the line. Gaze moved into the Elite age group in 2018 while Hatherly gets a final shot at the U23 rainbow jersey. He carries plenty of confidence into Friday's race, having finished fifth overall in this year's U23 World Cup series and claiming a victory in Round 6 at Mont Sainte-Anne in Canada. Image credit: Michal Cerveny But the South African is no shoo-in for victory at the high altitude race venue in Lenzerheide. The U23 category is fiercely competitive. Norwegian powerhouse Petter Fagerhaug, Swiss whiz Filippo Colombo and Frenchman Joshua Dubau represent the biggest challengers to Hatherly's dominance. But the U23 ranks run deep with talent and skill and attacks will come from any number of the highly-motivated youngsters. Hatherly's training partner, Danish superstar Simon Andreassen, as well as rising star Christopher Blevins from the US will be fighting fit and won't back down. The U23 men race at 16:30 local time (the same in South Africa) on Friday afternoon, and there will be live streaming on the UCI Youtube channel. Team Spur will also be covering the race from its twitter page. The live video streaming is a welcome development, and an opportunity for fans to see the ferocious pace and silky skills of the world's most talented young mountain bikers. Team Spur fans have been reduced to following Hatherly's exploits across the globe in 2018 via the team's live twitter feed updates, as U23 World Cup races aren't broadcast live. Hatherly starts the race on the front row with the number two board, as the highest ranked U23 rider. "The start at Lenzerheide is crucial, you have only a hundred metres or so on the straight before we turn left onto an open tar road climb," Hatherly says. "Once you're on the tar climb it's near impossible to pass riders, and diving straight into a tricky singletrack section afterwards makes tactics even more important." Rain is forecast for race week and in course practice riders are already battling to stay upright on sections of the slippery track. Hatherly has raced a few wet World Cup events this year with mixed results, but a solid understanding of how to approach a race when the weather turns against him. "It's all about being stable on the bike and controlling the slides which will inevitably come," Hatherly says. Hatherly spent the past week in Livigno, Italy, preparing for high-altitude racing on the big stage on Friday. "The altitude will also play a factor and I need to be smart about keeping my efforts constant, any overreaching and you'll pay the price."
  17. Image Courtesy of Michal Cerveny The result in Canada, on "one of the hardest tracks on the [World Cup] circuit", according to Hatherly, is the South African's most memorable result in a roller coaster season of racing. The 22-year-old broke both his wrists in February in a mountain bike stage but bounced back in April to claim a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Australia. He then defended his African Continental and South African Championship titles recently. For those in the know, UCI World Cup racing remains the pinnacle of the sport, and Hatherly was eager to deliver on his potential on the biggest stage. Passion, skill, dedication to training and pure grit have brought him a second (in 2017) and a third-place result this year in U23 World Cups. But the top step of the podium had eluded him... until Sunday! Hatherly and his Team Spur support staff, mechanic JP Jacobs and team manager, Tim Bassingthwaighte, made their way from a cold and wet Cape Town, South Africa to the ski resort of Mont Sainte-Anne, outside Quebec City, Canada last week. The trio immediately set about negating the jetlag from the 6-hour time difference and negative effects of the long-haul flight. A special training plan was hatched with a shift in the usual race preparation. Hatherly took a look at the course on Wednesday and knew he'd have his hands full on race day, trying to contain the best young riders on a physically demanding track. The Mont Sainte-Anne race course had cut out one major climb from previous years, but would still be a dogfight for all of its six laps. "The course here is one of the most natural of the year," Hatherly said. "There's nothing man-made on it and the climbing is really tough, which makes it one of the hardest tracks on the circuit." Technical rock gardens littered the course and were made treacherous with wet roots and muddy sections in between. Alan was up for the challenge: "I worked hard to dial in my lines for the race. With two long-haul international flights to get here, I needed to ensure I was race ready as soon as possible," Hatherly said. The race got underway on a sweltering Quebec summer's day. Alan lined up in the front row for the all-important explosive start. It was the usual frenetic cloud of dust when the starter's gun was fired, with riders jostling for positions on the shorter start loop. Staying in touch with the front group was vital as the technical course means bottlenecks at the more challenging obstacles, or when other riders fall. "I aimed to be in around fourth or fifth position in the start loop, this allowed me to be aware of any attacks which may have come off the front," Hatherly reflected. "The bottom of the climbs here are all wide open and then it goes into singletrack at the top, so I knew I didn't need to be up front early on. There was an opportunity to move up on the big climbs." Image Courtesy of Michal Cerveny Sitting fifth wheel in the lead bunch, Alan put in an attack up a grass climb midway through the first lap and started dictating the pace. "I rode a pretty hard pace to try and split the group and test the riders with me. On the second lap Joshua Dubau [France] attacked up the climb and I went with him and we distanced ourselves from the group," Hatherly said. "Chris Blevins [uSA] was the only one who could come with us." "Unfortunately Josh crashed on the descent soon after attacking me, so it was just Chris who was able to stay with me." The pair of Specialized riders then worked together to extend their lead over their chasers. "We kept it wide open to get the gap as early on in the race as possible, so we could play tactics towards the end of it. Having the buffer puts you in a good position to play the tactical game. Whereas if [the chasers] are hot on your heels you don't have time to work out the strategies. Chris and I pulled together, rotated and kept it steady through to the last lap," said Hatherly. Aware of Blevins' technical prowess, Hatherly watched him like a hawk. After four laps out in front, the pair knew it would come down to the decisive final lap. "I knew I had to make a move on the climbs. As we hit the second major climb of the lap I put my head down and went for it." described Alan. Pushing right to the edge of his limits, Hatherly took a steeper inside line while Blevins opted for the safer, wider line. The effort required to summit the small rise paid off as Hatherly gained a good few meters of Blevins. "I managed to get about a 10m gap or so on Chris and I knew I had to keep the pace up and just push through to the line. I think he made a mistake at the top in the rock garden and that gave me a bit of extra time," he said. Dropping out of the trees towards the line, Hatherly had wrestled the gap out to around 30 seconds. A few grass bends and high fives later and Alan crossed the line to claim his first U23 UCI XCO World Cup victory! "It's unbelievable to finally get the win. We've been working for this now for longer than two years obviously, but I feel likes it's been possible for the last two years and to finally have pulled it off is massive. With all the ups and downs of this year: broken bones, anemia mid-season... it's not ideal! To bounce back towards the end of the season is incredible. It's four weeks now till World Champs and two weeks to La Bresse. Some exciting racing is still ahead so it's time for some big training to prepare for the final two-three races of the year. I'm happy there's some racing left to chase another top step!" "I am so stoked that all the effort has paid off. The last few weeks have been so hard but to walk away with the win makes it all worth it. I just want to say thanks to everyone back home for all the support, it makes the victory that much sweeter," Hatherly said. Hatherly now spends a few weeks in Europe before the final round of the UCI World Cup in La Bresse, France and the XCO World Championships in Lenzerheide, Switzerland in September.
  18. Image courtesy of Milan de Beer. Alan returned from Europe on Wednesday last week after two high-paced UCI World Cup races. Landing in Bloemfontein after his long-haul travel, Alan focused on defending his national jersey immediately, with a few longer rides to stretch out the legs. His Team Spur support staff also had their work cut out, and were juggling baggage weight limits and excess charges from Europe to ensure everything arrived on time and in one piece. "Spare parts and tools are vital for an XCO. When you see Alan twice on a lap, it is important to have your bases covered," Team Spur mechanic, JP Jacobs said. "Everyone needs to be a bit more flexible when we are racing for an important championship jersey out of a suitcase, en route home after a long overseas stint. Not everything goes to plan," laughed team manager, Tim Bassingthwaighte. "But having two heads locked into the plan helps us manage the unforeseen changes, and keeps everything running smoothly." The Bloemfontein course at Happy Valley Conservancy is dry and rocky, but a hidden gem, found in the middle of town yet quite unknown to all but the passionate local mountain bike community. "The course was essentially the same as last year," said Hatherly. "With just a few hundred metres cut out." Although a far cry from the recent Andorra World Cup, which sits at over 2000m above sea level and where Alan placed eighth, Bloemfontein's altitude, at 1400m, would play a factor in race tactics. "I knew it would be important to race smart from the get go," said Hatherly. "Stuart Marais and Phil Buys set the pace out front and I let them do their thing until the first climb, where I moved past." Hatherly then increased the pace to keep the race pressure high, with only his close friend Matt Beers and Arno du Toit able to respond. "I got a gap on my chasers – Matt and Arno," he described. The seven-lap race was then quickly strung out as riders came through the start-finish banner to complete the first lap. Lap-time predictions at Friday's course practice proved to be inaccurate, with the racing producing slower than expected times. "The course was so blown out after a full day of racing all the age categories, that we ended up racing for an hour and thirty eight minutes," Hatherly said after the race. "The climbs were loose, so traction was quite tough to come by." "I felt really good throughout the race, despite it being the third race weekend in a row for me, mixed in with lots of travel!" Hatherly admitted. Once Hatherly had established a gap over his chasers, he maintained a constant effort to extend his lead on each lap. After seven laps of hard racing, Hatherly finished just over three minutes ahead of his close friend, training partner and marathon specialist Matt Beers in second with third-placed Arno du Toit a minute further back. "A big shout out to Matt for a solid ride in a format which he hasn't had too much experience in," said Hatherly. "All in all I'm super stoked to renew my Elite National title, I'm looking forward to next year now. I can wear and show off my white South African jersey at the UCI World Cups in my first year in the Elite category." It has been a long and successful road for Alan, having started his XCO racing at the Spur Schools League in KwaZulu-Natal. "Being a Spur Schools Mountain Bike League ambassador, I think it's important to inspire the young riders and show them that it is possible to come from the League and achieve an Elite National title." "It's now time for me to shift all my focus towards the next block of World Cups and the big goal in September, the UCI U23 World Championships!"
  19. Image courtesy of Michal Cerveny. And so Team Spur headed to the fifth round of the 2018 UCI XCO World Cup Series, which took place in the high mountains of the Pyrenees in Andorra, on the Spanish border. The lung-busting venue is widely regarded as the toughest on the World Cup circuit, not just due to the sparse oxygen levels at 2000m above sea level, but for its steep and punchy climbs, with rocky off-camber descents. It is no mean feat to simply stay upright. U23 rider Alan Hatherly arrived early in race week to find some significant changes to the course from previous years. The addition of an extra climbing loop straight after the start would create an intense race from the starter's gun. “Coming straight off the start into a 90-degree turn at full gas was a bit of a puzzle for us as we sprinted for positions,” Alan reflected after the race. A last-minute addition of a seventh lap to the U23 Men’s race suddenly required even better pacing and critical effort management. Hatherly got off to a good start from the second row and entered the dual slalom section after the first climb in sixth place. As riders entered the back end of the course, a 'brick wall' climb loomed. “You have to be so careful at altitude to not overreach and go into the red,” said Alan. “As soon as you’ve gone into the red, the lack of oxygen makes it so hard for your body to recover.” The race held together for the first lap, with riders keeping each other in check, before the eventual winner, Joshua Dubau of France, pulled off the front and soloed the remaining laps to an emphatic victory. There was a constant change of riders on the charge from behind though. As riders surged and faded, Hatherly held a constant effort and shifted between fifth and eighth place. “It’s so hard to judge other riders at altitude, you never know how the other guys are going to handle it,” said Alan. Groups formed and broke apart, but Hatherly found himself riding his own pace between groups, helping him manage his effort. At the end of the unusually long seven-lap race, Hatherly finished in eighth place. In an unfamiliar and harsh environment that is very tough to predict, the top-10 is a fantastic achievement for Hatherly and the team. But the fun doesn't stop here. Team Spur is now racing across the equator to Bloemfontein to ready themselves for the South African XCO National Championships on Saturday, 21 July, where Hatherly hopes to defend his Elite XCO jersey for another year. Team Spur will once again be covering the race live on twitter. Stay tuned from 14:15!
  20. Photo credit: Michal Cerveny. The Czech course is one of Alan's favourite and the high-speed terrain offered an opportunity to put a hard-fought but disappointing top-10 at a muddy World Cup in Albstadt, Germany, last week behind him. An unusual 16:00 race start time (U23 races are usually held in the morning of race day) threw the usual preparations and gave the U23 riders almost a full day to ponder on the upcoming effort. Needless to say, it was unsettling! What did suit Alan was the Nové Město course, featuring dry and rocky sections as well as natural rooty climbs and fast technical descents.The start was flat-out as always, on a fairly wide track as riders launched themselves into the first climb. “I went super hard on the tar stretch out of the arena,” said Alan. “Getting up front on the start loop was vital to avoid congestion on the climbs and technical sections.” In a repeat of last weekend, Alan found himself off the front in the start loop again, taking a small selection of riders with him onto Lap 1. The cat-and-mouse games between a motivated top five began straight away as riders responded to the pacemaking, mostly from Alan and Swiss rider Filippo Colombo, latching onto the group and then dropping off again. By the final lap, the group had been whittled down to four riders, with Alan very much in the thick of it all. With just the top three making the podium presentation in U23, there was plenty at stake. The question was, who would make the first move? “When Vlad [Dascalu, from Romania] attacked on the second last climb I thought he had gone too early,” reflected Alan. “I tried to push harder up the climb but made a slight mistake and had to unclip.” As they crested the climb, Descalu disappeared into the thick forest. Alan's slipped wheel had dropped him back to third, with the Colombo hanging desperately onto second. Although his lead was mere seconds the twisty course and dense tree cover made the perfect screen for the escapee and the chasing riders never closed on the flying Romanian. But it wasn't over for Alan, as he ripped into the last couple of descents, laying aggressively into every turn and milking the course for every ounce of speed, hoping to steal second. But it was not to be: “Colombo came onto the final stretch just ahead of me, but by then even his 3-second gap was enough to hold me off,” Alan said. A satisfied Alan Hatherly finished in third place in just over 1 hour and 24 minutes. Photo credit: Michal Cerveny. UCI U23 Men's XCO World Cup, Nové Město na Moravě, Czech Republic, Results: 1. Vlad Dascalu (ROM) 1:23:44 2. Filippo Colombo (SUI) 1:24:05 3. Alan Hatherly (RSA) 1:24:08 4. Petter Fagerhaug (NOR) 1:24:28 5. Joshua Dubau (FRA) 1:24:28 Alan returns to South Africa for some downtime, with just one SA XCO Cup race on 16 June in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga. Then it's back to Europe for another test against the world's best at round four of the UCI World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy on 7 July.
  21. A dream start saw Alan lead the field in the opening lap, but a dropped chain forced him back to 15th and required a monumental fight to secure 10th position after five slippery laps. Ahead of the race the African and South African Champion was buzzing to get back on a World Cup start line. A successful block of racing in April saw him claim bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Australia and retain his African Championship title in Egypt. This would be the first chance in 2018 to prove himself against the world's finest U23 racers. Race week was dominated by talks of the weather forecast and discussions about tactics and equipment. Team Spur arrived to constant rain on Tuesday and saw the course deteriorate in front of their eyes. “Starting in the third row we knew I would have to dig deep on the start loop,” Alan said after the race. “If you’re not up front going up the first switchback climb you’ll get caught in so much lap traffic.” Alan made his way to the front of the bunch and set the pace, working to get the bunch down to a manageable size. With three other riders in tow, things were looking good for Alan. The rain then started and thunder was roaring above, turning an already slick course onto a mud bath. With the build-up of mud and grass on the drive train, riders were battling to keep the bikes moving at pace. “I was leading the guys up the climb and as I looked down I saw my chain pop off my chainring,” Alan said. “I got [the chain] back on fairly quickly but then had the wrong teeth lined up on the chain so I had to stop and put it on again.” The mechanical dropped Alan to around 15th place as the leaders continued their assault up front. The chase was now on to claw back positions. Alan put in a solid effort as he worked his way back to claim 10th in what he described as one of the “craziest races” of his career. “Despite the unfortunate mechanical I am happy with the race, the numbers are good. I’m not as used to the mud as some of the Europeans,” said Alan. Team Spur now travel to the Czech Republic for the third round of the UCI World Cup series in Nové Město na Moravě [Nove Mesto for short!]. Alan is looking forward to an opportunity to show what he's really capable of in what is expected to be drier conditions. Unfortunately, U23 racing is not broadcast live on RedBullTV, as with the Elite categories. However, Team Spur is trackside bringing you the race action this Saturday at 16:00 on twitter, so give them a follow: @Team_Spur.
  22. The result took Team South Africa’s medal count at the games to 28 and comes just two months after Hatherly fractured both wrists in a high speed crash at the three-day Tankwa Trek stage race. After a flying start with Gaze powering to the front, and only Hatherly and fellow Kiwis Cooper and Ben Oliver able to keep pace, the field was blown to pieces and the stage set for an exhilarating battle for the medals. By the end of Lap 3, Hatherly, Gaze and Cooper had burnt off Oliver who dangled in no-mans land for the remainder of the race to come home in fourth. No stranger to the intense energy of an international games environment, having represented South Africa at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Hatherly knew he'd have his hands full containing two of the world's fastest Elite mountain bikers. Cooper (in 2015) and Gaze (in 2017) are both past U23 World Champions and were also Gold and Silver at the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, with Cooper having the edge on Gaze in a two-up sprint. According to Hatherly it was super tactical right from the start gun, especially with the three Kiwis in the mix. “I’m really happy with the result, considering eight weeks ago I suffered a broken radius and cracked wrist,” Hatherly commented after the race. “It went smoothly and I am happy to be on the podium.” “I think it was around Lap 3 where I decided to put one big lap in to try split us up a bit more,” he said. It proved to be a decisive move and with two laps to go it was a three-horse race. “That left Sam, Anton and I to eye-ball each other throughout the rest of the race.” “I felt really good out there,” he added, explaining that the wrists which had their first race run at the second round of the South African XCO Cup less-then two weeks ago, held up well to the demands of world-class racing. The three riders jostled for position throughout the remainder of the race and it wasn't until the final lap where the racing exploded. “Sam had a rear-wheel puncture and was forced to stop to re-inflate it. Anton took off immediately and it became one hot lap to finish it all off." said Alan. Gaze, who now sat in third, was quick to hop back on the bike as he hunted down the leaders. As they made their way up the penultimate rocky climb, Alan showed his class as he made way for a charging Gaze. Alan sat in third and continued to chase, but started feeling the effects of such intense efforts. "I started to feel the arms a bit at the end but it is expected after such a tough race. I am very happy to bring it home in third for South Africa.” In the Women's race, fellow South African's Mariske Strauss placed 7th while Cherie Redecker finished 11th.
  23. Image Credit: Craig Kolesky. Unlike the UCI XCO World Cup circuit, the Commonwealth Games has no age group categories, so despite being U23, Alan will be lining up with Elite riders. Among them are a few dangerous riders Alan will need to keep a close eye on. "There is the New Zealand Team of Sam Gaze, Anton Cooper and Ben Oliver," Alan says. "We also have the Australian Dan McConnell who's on home soil so he'll be firing, no doubt. I reckon it will be the five of us who'll be mixing it up at the front out there." The race will feature the most exciting young talent in mountain biking right now, with both Gaze (2017) and Cooper (2015) past U23 World Champions. Gaze narrowly beat Hatherly to win last year's U23 world title on Australian soil, and Cooper beat Gaze to Commonwealth glory four years ago. But few can argue that it is Gaze who is in the ascendency right now, the powerfully-built Kiwi won the first round of the World Cup in Stellenbosch, beating out the Swiss maestro, Olympic and 2017 Elite World Champion Nino Schurter. Cooper placed sixth. In the U23 race in South Africa Oliver placed second, but Hatherly was forced to sit out with a wrist injury. Don't discount the veteran Aussie, McConnell, who was third in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 and has years of top-level World Cup racing experience to draw on. With a course that doesn't offer too much technically, opportunities to create gaps will come down to raw power and tactics. "It's definitely a big boy course," Alan says. "So watts will be flying and it will be interesting to see how it plays out. I think the race will split up pretty quickly: by the end of lap two the race should be decided in terms of who'll be staying and who is unable to hold the pace." The first opportunity to see the race track in Nerang State Forest was last week Friday. Alan inspected it closely with Team Spur and Team South Africa mechanic, JP Jacobs. "It allowed us to make sure all my lines were dialed and I had the fastest route planned before I hit the track on Saturday." says Alan. "The course has quite a few open sections, but when it gets rocky it gets quite gnarly and it can be easy to puncture or mess up your bike." "The track is faster than a typical UCI XCO World Cup track, with an average speed of around 21km/h, it's definitely one of the faster tracks I've been on. The 4,5km lap offers only around 100m of climbing, which is split over two climbs, so it's not as punchy as an XCO course. It's more of a continuous effort with a lot of pedaling, which I'd say suits me a bit more at this time of the year. It's quite similar to the World Champs course in Cairns [Australia] last year," reflects Alan. Image Credit: Craig Kolesky. Team Spur mechanic JP Jacobs and Alan have worked together closely for just over a year now, and their connection and understanding helps to keep everything running smoothly. "JP knows how I like my bike setup, and what tweaks or changes I tend go for on a course like this," explains Hatherly. "He is one of the best mechanics out there, so as far as fine tuning the bike, I definitely have the advantage of having the bike as fast as possible, that just leaves it up to me now to pull it off." JP has firmed the suspension on Alan's Specialized S-Works Epic to help Alan over the flat, fast sections as well as allow him to pedal over the rougher sections. "As the rough sections are on the flat, you have to pedal over them all, where normally these kinds of sections are on descents, and softer suspension would give you the cushion you need. Otherwise, it's Alan's normal set-up of Specialized Renegade tyres, SRAM Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, Rotor 36T chainring, full CeramicSpeed bearings and Magura brakes. To catch all the action on Thursday morning 12 April, tune into SuperSport to watch the race live at 05:30 South African time.
  24. Through the cloud of pain and adrenaline the reigning South African Champion could think only of how he might just have forfeited two of the most highly-anticipated races in his 2018 calendar – the UCI XCO World Cup season opener in Stellenbosch on 10 March and next week's Commonwealth Games spectacle, held at Nerang State Forest on the Gold Coast, Australia. Not one to wallow in self-pity Alan and his professional mountain bike outfit Team Spur rallied a crack support team around him – his coach John Wakefield and leading local sports physician Jeroen Swart. A broken left wrist and fractured right wrist were operated on the same day as his crash and while Alan lay recovering on his hospital bed his coach busied himself with a rehab route back to full strength. Within a handful of days, Alan was on his indoor trainer and soon after returned to his gym routine, with some minor tweaks to accommodate having both wrists in casts. Sadly, the UCI XCO World Cup came too quickly, and with his wrists not quite ready Alan was forced to watch his international rivals rip through the challenging Coetzenberg track – enjoying a mountain bike party in his own backyard without him. Today it's a very different story. With less than a week to the Commonwealth Games XCO event on Thursday, 12 April, Alan is fully fit and excited to get back to the start line on Australia's Gold Coast. A win on local soil at the second round of the South African XCO Cup a week ago, is all the race preparation he needed to know the wrists can handle the demands of world-class competition and he would be able to race at full throttle in South African colours. "It was only the last 10 minutes of the [sA XCO Cup] race where my wrists started to stiffen up, and that was a week ago, so by the 12th I would say I'll be completely back to full speed," says Alan. "With the Commonwealth Games being the main focus, I entered the SA XCO Cup slightly fatigued from an intense training block, but I am happy with my performance ahead of the big one." "With all efforts focused on a one-day event, the final build-up and tapering is vital. I need to tie everything together so I can peak on a specific day and be as fast as possible," says Alan. Alan is no stranger to the intense energy of an international games environment, having represented South Africa at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. But his first Commonwealth Games village was still a shock to the system. "With around 6,500 athletes and staff, there is a lot going on. One big bonus is the coffee machine in each apartment block. It makes adapting to the eight-hour time zone change more manageable," laughs Alan. Still, staying healthy, sleeping well and allowing for ample recovery is still a puzzle that requires careful planning. Luckily he has a very familiar face to help make sense of the organised chaos – Team Spur's mechanic, JP Jacobs was selected alongside Alan to represent South African as the Mountain Bike and Road Mechanic. "Having been here for a few days only, I'm still trying to sleep through to 8am. We'll then head out to breakfast. Then it's training time, before coming back to the village for lunch and to relax for the rest of the day. We're fortunate to have physiotherapists here, so I'm able to get a massage and focus on recovery," Alan says. Today [Friday, 6 April] marks the opening of the Games XCO track and Alan is excited to see what it has to offer: "JP and I will do a course walk and then it'll be open for some efforts over the weekend. Once we've seen the track we'll start the bike tweaking process and JP will work his magic to make the bike as fast as possible.
  25. The Spur/Red-E and Spur/Valencia teams of Alan Hatherly, Matt Beers, Ariane Luthi and Amy-Beth McDougall secured the 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, titles on Saturday the 21st of October in the Klein Karoo town of Oudtshoorn. Though both the men’s and women’s general classification champions were unable to win the final stage, surrendering stage victory to NAD Pro MTB and Ascendis Health, they still secured the overall victory by 1 minute 42 seconds and 1 minute 40 seconds respectively. Click here to view the article
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