Team Spur consists of Swiss Marathon Champion and multiple Cape Epic winner Ariane Lüthi and Olympian and U23 African Champ Alan Hatherly.
“We are very excited to join Team Spur for the upcoming season,” commented Leigh Oliveira, Marketing Manager at Kargo National. “Kargo National has always had a passion for mountain biking and we believe that this new venture will be a prosperous one.”
“Alan has been such an outstanding ambassador. A great sportsman both on and off the track. We are proud to continue this journey with him,” Oliveira said.
“Ariane Luthi shows such passion and commitment for this sport which ultimately every athlete needs to have in order to succeed. Kargo National looks forward to sponsoring and supporting both these talented athletes during the season.”
“The relationship is fantastic continuity in their support for Alan Hatherly,” commented Nic Lamond of Podium Sports, which runs Team Spur. “It’s encouraging to see that they wanted to continue to support the country's pre-eminent mountain bike racer and believe he has the character and talent to make a global impact.”
Hatherly will have his first chance to shine in Team Spur colours, in his preferred discipline (XCO), this coming weekend at the first round of the SA XCO Cup Series, which takes place at Rhebokskloof, outside Paarl in the Western Cape.
“It’s the first XCO of the year so it’s going to be quite exciting to go out and see what happens,” Hatherly said. “My form feels good at the moment. I started my intensity block about two weeks ago and although I’m still in strength phase at the gym, my numbers are already better than last year, so I’m really looking forward to see what that relates to in a quite deep field with the Europeans.”
Indeed the start list will be stacked, with a host of International riders in the country for training, confirmed to race. Apart from all the top local contenders, the start list includes fellow Specialized riders Sam Gaze (New Zealand) and Simon Andreasson (Denmark) as well as seasoned campaigner Manuel Fumic (Germany), Marcel Guerrini (Switzerland) and Martin Gluth (Germany)
“I would like to go top three,” Hatherly said. “I think that is fairly realistic. It is a deep field with Sam, Simon and Marcel. Guys are obviously going to see where there form is. Also the guys racing Absa Cape Epic are also going to be testing the guns.”
Hatherly believes the trademark Paarl heat is bound to be a factor. “It will count in the South Africans’ favour,” he said, before jokingly adding, “I think the Europeans are going to melt out there.”
Hatherly will be racing UCI World Cups in the U23 category, but has elected to race the SA XCO Cup series as a Pro Elite. “The Pro Elite race is a Cat One [UCI Category 1], so it gives U23s an opportunity us to get more points as they mix U23 and Elites together, which is really good for me because to compete in other events for points becomes a bit hectic. Racing Pro Elite means the racing is much better, much faster, more competitive which makes it a better test for everyone.”
Ariane Lüthi will also race in what is shaping up to be a stacked women's Pro Elite field, with local favourites Cherie Redecker and Mariske Strauss billed to be there, as well as a host of international riders.