Under-23 mountain biking sensation Alan Hatherly has confirmed he will include the popular 60km Illovo Eston Marathon – the feature race of Sunday 7 August’s Illovo Eston MTB Challenge – in his final preparations for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The Olympic debutant was recently named as one of the two Team South Africa’s male mountain bikers to do battle at the South American showpiece next month and with few races between now and his departure on 13 August, the Kargo Pro Cycling Team rider is looking forward to the race training opportunity this year’s Illovo Eston Marathon presents.
“There are just under five weeks between now and race day in Rio and there aren’t many races on the calendar that I can use to keep the sharpness in the legs and stay race-ready, so the Eston is a great race for me to test the legs one last time before I leave and make sure everything is as it needs to be ahead of the Olympics,” explains Hatherly.
“The Eston’s 60km marathon course is a little longer than the cross country distance we’ll be racing at the Olympics but with the King of the Mountain hotspot just a few kilometers in, the pace off the line at Eston is usually really fast and then it blows up and doesn’t ever seem to slow down from there.
“Eston’s route also includes some great single track, which will give me a chance to stay on top of the technical side of things too, so it will be a good final hit-out,” he adds.
The Illovo Eston MTB Challenge – which also includes the 40km aQuellé Half Marathon, 18km STIHL Tala Family Ride and 10km Omnia Kids Ride – is a familiar event for Hatherly however the 20 year-old has surprisingly failed to impress at in the past.
With the added importance of this year’s race, the young Hillcrest-based athlete is however eager to right the record books by putting in a strong showing in 2016.
“Hopefully this is my year at Eston!” confirms Hatherly. “I’ve always made a few mistakes or hit the wall there in previous years but it’s a race I really enjoy so it’s one I’d really like to win, especially this year with Rio just around the corner.
“Hopefully there will be another strong field and it becomes a great contest and a real sufferfest at the front of the race.”
The 2016 Illovo Eston MTB Challenge takes place on Sunday, 7 August. Entries can be submitted via www.roag.co.za and more information can be found at www.illovoestonmtb.co.za.