Hatherly was the first South African and fifth overall rider to complete the race in Coetzenburg, Stellenbosch, on Saturday.
Swiss riders Matthias Stirnemann, Nino Schurter and Marcel Guerrini, who completed the podium in that order, dominated the field. Dutchman Michiel van der Heijden finished fourth.
“It was my first race of the year and I didn’t quite have that sharpness I would have later in the season,” Hatherly told In the Bunch today.
“I will need a bit of fine-tuning. At this stage of the season it is generally difficult to maintain a high pace. That only comes after a few races and after getting some rhythm in the legs.”
He expected it to be a tough seven 4.5km-lap race, Hatherly said. “I expected it to be hot, long and tough; the course being World Cup standard is in no way easy.”
The international riders in the line-up also “exceeded my expectations”, Hatherly added.
“I thought the heat would have got to them, but it didn’t seem to affect them at all.
“They are all ‘flying’ this time of the year and working their way towards those two events,” he added.
The Team Spur rider said he began to find his rhythm in the middle of the race on Saturday, before Van der Heijden caught him.
“I was lying in fourth for most of the race,” he said, “but then Van der Heijden caught me and we had a close tussle in the last three laps.
“He just managed to stay ahead of me and beat me by about 20 seconds.”
Hatherly said he was happy with the result, adding, “I was the first South African and first under-23 in my first race of the year. I’m happy with that.
“I obviously have some work to do ahead of March, but I’m looking forward to taking part in the Tankwa Trek this weekend.