Ac­tion Fig­ure

Fresh from his sil­ver medal in the U23 race at the UCI Moun­tain Bike World Champs in Aus­tralia (and his many me­dia com­mit­ments). Alan Hatherly went straight into prepa­ra­tion mode for the Cape Pi­o­neer Trek. We had to use a spe­cial tac­tic to get him away fr

Bicycling (South Africa) - - INSIDE! - IN­TER­VIEW: AN­DRE VALEN­TINE PHO­TO­GRAPH: DES­MOND LOUW

We share a burger with U23 World Champ sil­ver medal­list Alan Hatherly, and talk about DH, XCO and winning. And groupies.

So… you or­dered that burger; are you ac­tu­ally go­ing to eat it?

Well, I’m not go­ing to let it go to waste. I did get a salad in­stead of the chips.

Do you get to eat at for free at Spur?

No! I’m spon­sored by Spur Cor­po­rate, not the ac­tual restau­rants. Ac­tu­ally there’s a lot more to Spur than just steak ranches – they own 13 dif­fer­ent food fran­chises, in­clud­ing Pa­narot­tis.

What’s the re­ac­tion been to your sil­ver medal at World Champs?

It’s been re­ally crazy. I’ve had to do a lot of in­ter­views, in be­tween a mas­sive train­ing block for my last part of the sea­son. The re­sult has def­i­nitely put me a lit­tle more on the in­ter­na­tional map.

Have you picked up any groupies since your sil­ver medal?

That’s a weird ques­tion! And one with a sim­ple an­swer… I have a girl­friend!

On a more se­ri­ous note, what was your mind­set go­ing into Champs?

My plan was to al­ways ride up front – no fur­ther back than fourth wheel, due to the dust. The con­di­tions out there were re­ally rough, so it took a lot of pre- race plan­ning to op­ti­mise our race cool­ing meth­ods and nutri­tion. My plan was to ride in a podium po­si­tion through­out the race and see if I could make it when it came down to the de­ci­sive move. My prepa­ra­tion and form lead­ing into World Champs were re­ally good, which was key to my race con­fi­dence.

Did you be­lieve be­fore­hand that you could win a medal?

I be­lieved it was pos­si­ble, for sure – es­pe­cially af­ter get­ting a taste of sil­ver at the An­dorra World Cup round.

You got pretty close to [even­tual win­ner] Sam Gaze at one point – did it sur­prise you that he pulled away from you the way he did?

It was a su­per- tac­ti­cal race. The pace was hardly at full tilt un­til the last lap- and- a- bit. That’s where there were a cou­ple of surges. Sam put in an at­tack and got a big gap quickly, but I thought it was way too hard, too soon. We time- tri­alled the last lap, with me chas­ing and him try­ing to stay away. In the end, he was just that bit stronger.

You’ve been on the radar for a few years now, and have gone from strength to

strength. What makes you keep im­prov­ing?

It’s hon­estly just been rac­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally, and pin­point­ing where my strengths and weak­nesses are at that level. I re­lo­cated to Cape Town this year, to bet­ter my train­ing ground – and share an apart­ment with Matt Beers, who’s been my train­ing part­ner all year. He’s an an­i­mal, and he’s re­ally helped me el­e­vate my train­ing. I have a cou­ple of things I can do bet­ter for 2018, so I’m ex­cited to see if I can im­prove more, lead­ing into the Com­mon­wealth year!

Ob­vi­ously, peo­ple are start­ing to call you ‘ The Next Burry Stander’. How does that make you feel?

Burry is our first South African XCO hero, and he was a role model to all of us. I looked up to him as I was com­ing through the ranks at a re­ally young age, but un­for­tu­nately I was just a cou­ple of years too young to have been able to ride with him, and un­der­stand the game at the level he did. I’m re­ally proud to be con­sid­ered the next Burry Stander, and to con­tinue the legacy for South Africa – but hope­fully, soon I’ll be con­sid­ered the first Alan Hatherly as well.

You used to be a down­hiller – why did you make the change?

XCO al­ways ap­pealed to me, as I was rid­ing through the sport. But the ma­jor fac­tor, I think, that made me make the fi­nal de­ci­sion to ded­i­cate my train­ing to XCO was that it’s an Olympic sport, and the spon­sor­ship/ team op­por­tu­ni­ties at the time were way greater than for DH.

Do you think the DH side of your skillset has given you an edge over other rac­ers?

Yes, for sure. You can see it es­pe­cially when it comes down to the fi­nal few laps of an XCO race. When ev­ery­one gets tired, I’m able to main­tain the same flow as my ear­lier laps, while still be­ing able to re­cover. DH has given me an im­por­tant skillset, which will hope­fully take me to the Elite podium one day.

What weak­nesses do you need to iron out?

I think this off-sea­son I’m go­ing to focus on get­ting my body right, be­fore I start my ac­tual train­ing for 2018. I have a cou­ple of re­hab is­sues from old in­juries in my DH days, which I think if I could iron out would give me a cou­ple more per cent im­prove­ment for 2018.

You’ll be rac­ing U23 again in 2018. Are you feel­ing a strong cam­paign com­ing up?

I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to 2018. I think this year has been a re­ally in­cred­i­ble year, rac­ing up front at ev­ery World Cup; so for next year, I’m def­i­nitely go­ing to be aim­ing for that World Cup podium, as well as mak­ing it to the medal po­si­tions at the Com­mon­wealth Games in Aus­tralia.

Based on your cur­rent tra­jec­tory, do you see your­self on the top podium as an Elite?

That’s a dif­fi­cult call to make right now. But ul­ti­mately, that is the long-term goal. I’m def­i­nitely work­ing to­wards mak­ing it to that Elite podium as soon as pos­si­ble!

I’m re­ally proud to be con­sid­ered the next Burry Stander – but hope­fully, soon I’ll be con­sid­ered the first Alan Hatherly.”

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