Howick – First year Under-23 competitor Alan Hatherly snuck in an eleventh hour entry in for Sunday’s Sappi Howick MTB Classic that the rapidly emerging cross country star will look to use as part of his build up towards the third leg of the UCI MTB World Cup that takes place in Lenzerheide, Switzerland in a month’s time.
The young Kargo Pro MTB charger had hardly touched down after his recent European stint that saw him impress at the first two World Cup events in Czech Republic and Germany respectively when he was already looking towards his next South African assignment to maintain his outstanding form.
“I initially was going to go up with Brendon (Davids) to the South African Marathon Champs in Van Gaalen but after getting back home from Europe and chatting to both my coach and my team manager, Shaun Peschl, we decided that it was probably best for me to give them a miss,” says Hatherly.
“Having set my focus for the year entirely on cross country and with me having been in Europe the last couple of weeks, we just felt that it probably wasn’t the best idea for me to try go race 115km without fully preparing for an ultra-marathon event like nationals.”
Instead though the tough yet fast-natured Sappi Howick MTB Classic will provide Hatherly with enough of a cross country-type outing that will keep him in the groove as he builds towards his Swiss challenge.
“I’m really looking forward to this weekend’s Howick Classic.
“It’s a super fun event with some great single track and I know exactly what to expect having ridden it a good few times before.”
Hatherly’s recent European expedition saw the youngster finish 37th and 24th in Nové Mesto na Morave and Albstadt respectively, crossing the line as the second first year Under-23 competitor on both occasions.
The Kargo Pro MTB rider will now turn to the local racing scene to maintain his good run of form.
“The trip was definitely a good experience! I learnt a lot – which you just can’t do back here in South Africa because the guys over there are just so fast and the fields are so big.
“This weekend will be more of a training ride than an actual race for me where I’ll try simulate a World Cup environment as best I can and look to go as hard as possible right from the start.
“Obviously once you’re on that start line you naturally want to race though so I’ll definitely also be hoping to try pick up a win at Howick as well.
Hatherly will look to follow up his participation in Sunday’s Sappi Howick MTB Classic with the Safire Baynesfield MTB Classic – the fourth leg of the 2015 Quattro ROAG Series – next weekend before wrapping up his brief stint back home with the fourth round of the Stihl SA Cup Series at Cascades in Pietermaritzburg which also doubles as a Junior World Series event.
The 2015 Sappi Howick MTB Race takes place from Howick High School on Sunday 7 June with participants able to choose from the 10km Family Ride, 19km Sappi Intermediate Ride and the 40km Sappi Howick Classic. Entries can be submitted online via www.roag.co.za by 3 June and more information can be found at www.howickmountainbiking.co.za