After his strong results during the World Cup season, South African racer Alan Hatherly believes the World Champs XCO course suits his strengths, and is raring to race on it.
On the back of his most successful UCI World Cup series yet (5th place overall in the U23 series) Team Spur’s Alan Hatherly is in Australia for the big dance at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships.
Earlier this week Hatherly had a chance to walk the XCO track in Cairns with Team Spur’s technical manager and Team South Africa Mechanic, JP Jacobs. “Before we rode it, it was already super broken up and dusty,” Alan says. “The surface just below the dust is a kind of hardpack rock however, so even if it breaks up completely it is just the top layer that will stay loose.”
According to Alan the course is surprisingly technical and made even more so by how fast it is.
“It’s sort of like wide open from the start and then you come straight into a few technical sections really fast where you have to jump on the brakes, negotiate the section and then get back on the gas right away.”
In addition the course features one major climb as well as a jump section, both of which play to Alan’s strengths. “The climb is switchbacked with quite a bit of rocks and ledges that you have to thoroughly concentrate on,” he explains. “But accelerating into and out of each corner fits my style of riding – there must be over 10 switchbacks on that climb, I think it’s about a 4-minute climb at race pace, so I’m targeting that.”
Hatherly is also hoping that the jumps, all situated in the middle of the course, work to his advantage saying, “you’re really going to gain ground if you send it.”
According to Hatherly it has been hot all week, so that will be a factor on the day: “If you go out really hard you will pay the price a lot sooner than you would in a ‘normal’ World Cup race, partially because being in the forest the entire time is where the humidity is a lot higher.”
“I’m feeling confident though and the bike is running super smooth thanks to JP. I can’t wait for race day.”
Hatherly’s strong World Cup season and Elite South African and African Continental XCO Championship titles earned him a glut of UCI points earlier in the year, making him the highest UCI-ranked U23 rider in the world, and giving him a prime position on the front row of the start grid. However, he’ll wear the No 2 plate in the race as the No 1 plate goes to New Zealand’s 2016 U23 World Champion, Sam Gaze.
The U23 Men race at 2:30pm local time tomorrow (Friday, 8 September). The racing will be covered on Team Spur’s twitter page as there is no live video feed.