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Buys and Hatherly slug it out in final round of SA MTB Cup Series
- Updated: June 14, 2016
The fifth and final round of the STIHL 2016 SA MTB Cup Series XCO takes place at the Happy Valley Conservancy in Bloemfontein on Saturday and the top Series Log contenders in the Pro-Elite Men category, Philip Buys and Alan Hatherly, are prepared to give the final round their all at the new Free State track.
Scott Factory Racing (Powered by LCB) rider, Philip Buys is ready to take the finale by the horns. ‘I’ve never raced at Happy Valley Conservancy and it will be a first for me racing in Bloem,’ he said.
Due to the overall series title only being decided after all five rounds of the Cup Series are complete, the win is still anybody’s game, although Buys will be fighting hard to take it. ‘I will definitely be fighting for the win at this last Cup race. Winning the series will be a bonus. After the Port Elizabeth Cup race I had two easy weeks before preparation started for the second half of my season. I might not be in top shape yet, but I definitely feel very fresh and jumpy on the bike,’ he said.
Four consecutive rounds with third place finishes has put Buys in great stead and third in the Series Log on 600 points, 45 points behind second on the Log, Alan Hatherly (Kargo Pro MTB Team). Log leader James Reid (Team Spur) will not be taking part, as he will be overseas at this time.
Buys has had an impressive 2016 season so far, and has his eyes set on short and longer term goals. ‘My 2016 season is planned to end after August, so by December I will already be busy with build up for the 2017 season. The one goal that I would like to have ticked off is to be one of the riders to represent South Africa at the Rio Olympics. Worlds and SA Champs will be part of the build up, and solid results at both of those will be good motivation,’ he said.
Last year’s Stihl SA MTB Cup Series XCO winner, Alan Hatherly, has the title in sight once again this year. ‘Winning the overall series has been a goal for me from the start of the season. I’m definitely going to give it my all to try achieve my goal and putting the series title in the bag is always awesome. Last year was a really special overall win for me being first year under-23. With this being the Olympic year, it would make a repeat just as special to me,’ he said.
Like Buys, Hatherly is also unfamiliar with the new venue. ‘I haven’t ridden at Happy Valley before however my teammates are close to the area and I’ve seen some photos and video of what to expect, so I’m really looking forward to it. Racing in new areas is always fun because it’s new terrain and I look forward to the challenge because I believe it is a technical course,’ said Hatherly.
When looking at the season so far, Hatherly feels that the most valuable lesson he has learned is that every second counts. ‘Even if your position is secure, you’ve still got to chase or keep it at full gas. At World Cup level there are no easy moments. Our Olympic selection criteria has been based on time so it has implemented that style or attitude of racing to our national events as well,’ he added.
Main picture of Buys courtesy of Hendrik Steytler and of Hatherly by Chris Hitchcock