“I’m really stoked to have renewed my elite national title,” Hatherly told In the Bunch today.
“Being a Spur MTB League ambassador, I think the title was important to inspire the kids – that it could also be possible for them to come from the league and become a national champion one day.
“Personally, I’m looking forward to showing off my white national jersey at the world cups next year. It also helps me with my UCI points.
“I’m trying to chase that front-two-rows start in my first elite world cup next year. I’m really excited for all of that.”
Currently racing in the under-23 category, Hatherly recently spent a block racing in three world cups – Albstadt, Nové Město and Vallnord – before returning home for the national championship.
After a lot of travelling, Hatherly said he did longer rides during the week to get his legs “loosened up and ready for the weekend”.
“It was another altitude race [after Vallnord], so I knew riding smart was going to be important.
“Stuart [Marais] and Philip [Buys] were really hammering it in the first half of the first lap. They were applying a lot of pressure, trying to get a good position in the race.
“I just let them do their thing until the first climb when I moved past and kept the pace high. I managed to create a gap over the chasing group.
“From there on I just extended my lead with every lap,” he added.
Everything went smooth for him on the day, Hatherly recalled. “I felt really good throughout the race. I kept it really steady and I had a low average heart rate.
“Everything ran good and the bike was smooth,” he said.
Hatherly said, however, that the race took longer than what he had anticipated.
“We planned for an hour and a half, but it ended up being an hour and 38 minutes.
“The course just broke up so badly from all the riders going through the whole day before us.
“Bloemfontein is also in a bit of a drought at the moment, so everything was very dry. That made it tough; the climbs were loose.
“It made it quite difficult on the rear to keep traction, but other than that I was happy.”
Hatherly will now turn his focus on building up towards the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Switzerland from September 5 to 9.