ROLA Motor Group are putting their money where their mouth is in a big way by supporting some of SA’s best athletes. In a sport where sponsorship is often hard to come by it is great to see a company backing our local cycling legends as much as they do.
We caught up with Alan Hatherly after he took delivery of his Toyota Hilux 2.4 GD6 double cab to chat about 2020 as a pro rider and what he has lined up for the future with his new team, Cannondale Factory Racing.
Bike Hub: 2020 was a tough year for everyone, how have you stayed motivated with so few races?
2020 was an insane year that’s for sure. So many times back to the drawing board to reassess the current situation and rebuild a new game plan. For me the challenge of adjusting to indoor riding was a big motivation. I really enjoyed the change and still use what I’ve learnt during that time today. Additionally - knowing that we had so few races really was a motivation booster. Since the race ‘season’ was so condensed I really had to commit 110% and be in the best shape possible, which I’m really glad I was and that it worked out the way it did with me grabbing my first Elite World Cup podium after such a tricky build up.
BH: Tell us about that World Cup podium result. You're no stranger to podiums, but this was your first at Elite level and in a turbulent year. With only two World Cup XCO races last year it must have been all the more special.
It was an unreal moment for me as it’s been a career goal for many years to one day reach an elite World Cup podium. To achieve it after such an insane year is really special to me and it’s definitely lifted my personal goals and expectations for the 2021 season. My eyes are set now on building towards podium/close to podium consistency throughout the season.
BH: 2021 looks to be a huge year with the Olympic Games, how has your preparation gone so far?
So far 2021 has been a little bit like last year with closed borders and travelling being difficult. I’m really hoping to head over to Europe soon to get some international racing done with the Cannondale Factory Racing crew. Having no races so far this year has opened up my preparation period and I’ve managed to really capitalise on that so far fortunately. The season has shifted a little later with Cape Epic now being in October which I think works out really well for me actually because I can now focus fully on my World Cup and Olympic aspirations for this season. So far all looks good to go ahead with the Olympics so I’m really excited to see the game plan start coming together!
BH: Your team sponsorships are of course vital, but what do sponsors like Rola Motor Group mean for you as an athlete?
Partnerships like Rola Motor Group are invaluable. The journey, friendship and networking opportunities that are presented really allow me to expand my brand awareness while giving back to Rola. The group is passionate about cycling which makes the vision, projects and engagement that much better for the relationship. Obviously it’s also really amazing to be able to drive incredible new cars around like my current vehicle - the 2021 Toyota Hilux 2.4 Raider 4x4!
BH: 2021 also sees you racing with a new team, how did that come about?
I was up for renewal of my current contract and it opened a door for discussion with the Cannondale Factory Racing team. The team always appealed to me with how they operate, always delivering when it counts the most, and the good vibes around the crew at all times. They also have had legends of the sport in their colours and I’m really honoured to be wearing those colours for the years ahead! So far it’s been an amazing adjustment and I’m looking forward to hitting the start line and levelling up around my power team mates Henrique Avanicini, Manuel Fumic and Simon Andreassen.
BH: What are you looking forward to the most with the new team?
Learning from the crew and my teammates so I can keep progressing and working towards some top World Cup results consistently. It’s going to be a dream when the four of us CFR riders are rolling together at the World Cups and at the Cape Epic later this year when we go for yellow!
BH: In closing, what advice would you give your teenage self trying to come through the ranks into professional cycling.
Patience is the key! Steady progression is worth more than having one stand out year and then disappearing into the back of the field. Also get as much international exposure as you can because the adjustment to the level and depth of field takes a lot of time but if you work step by step you’ll find yourself working your way towards the sharp end of the field. The South African level is really high, it’s just a matter of executing that level and still going fast when you’re around 100 riders!
This feature was made possible by the Rola Motor Group.
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