Mountain bike sensation Alan Hatherly become only the second South African to claim the Under-23 world cross-country title in Lenzerheide. Photo: teamsa.co.za

Mountain bike sensation Alan Hatherly become only the second South African to claim the Under-23 world cross-country title in Lenzerheide, Switzerland on Friday.

The Commonwealth Games bronze medallist follows in the footsteps of the late Burry Stander, who won the cross country title nine years ago. 

He went into the championships buoyed by his best result in the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup series last month when he won the Under-23 cross-country event in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada.

"I had a taste of victory at Mont-Ste-Anne [World Cup] about a month ago and since then I've just been preparing,” Hatherly told the UCI website.

“I knew the possibility of winning was quite good, so it was a matter of making sure the final preparations were perfect.

“It's pretty unbelievable, these aren't the sort of conditions we get in South Africa, and at an altitude where I normally struggle. A dream come true.”

Hatherly won the race in a time of 1:17:44 finishing ahead of Christopher Blevins United States in second place and Mexico’s Jose Gerardo Ulloa Arevalo, who bagged the bronze. 

The South Africa made his intentions clear from the gun and was part of a nine-man pack through the first two laps of the 4-km loop course. 

Hatherly took the lead in the third lead with Blevins the only remaining rider keeping him company. 

He shook off the American in the final lap of the race to claim the rainbow jersey 27 seconds ahead Blevins. 

It has been a breakthrough season for the Rio Olympian winning the Commonwealth bronze medal just months after breaking both his wrists in a mountain bike stage race in February.

Stander became South Africa’s first Olympic cross-country champion at the 2009 and finished in a creditable fifth place at the London 2012 Games before he was killed in a tragic accident in 2013.

IOL Sport

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