Some of the best international and local riders are set to take part in the race, which will consist of seven challenging 4.5km laps.
Swiss trio Nino Schurter, the world number one UCI-ranked mountain-biker, Andri Frischknecht and Marcel Guerrini; Dutchman Michiel van der Heijden and Dane Simon Andreassen are the international favourites.
Locally, Matthys Beukes, Philip Buys and Stuart Marais will pose the biggest threat.
Hatherly, who won the elite men’s cross-country title at the SA MTB Championships last year, is in no way underestimating the line-up.
“Making just the top three will be a great start to the year for me,” Hatherly told In the Bunch today. “It is a really big international field.
“I have to be realistic about what I’m going to be up against,” he added.
Hatherly said his good form from last year had translated well into his pre-season training leading up to this event.
“When I restarted training three weeks after the season ended, I was in better form than in previous seasons.
“My form is looking really good and I’m excited to see what happens.”
The route will be very testing, Hatherly predicted. “There will be a lot of sudden sprints up the climbs, which can be difficult at this stage of the season because we may not yet be conditioned for that.
“It looks like the rain will fall as well, so the track might be very heavy.”
That will suit him though, Hatherly added. “I have ridden on the track quite a lot in the past week. I know the course quite well, so that may definitely play in my favour.
“I’m excited to see whether all my hard work in the off-season has paid off.
“This race will essentially be like a mini-World Cup, so if I do well it could set the tone for the season to come,” he added.