South African XCO mountain biker, Alan Hatherly will join the program for his third year in 2017. “The Squirt Rider House Program is a massive help for us athletes,” the 21-year old rising star says. “Accommodation is something that can make or break a race in my opinion and what Squirt have done with the program is incredible. I've been a part of the program for three years and every Squirt Rider House I've visited has been top notch and super close to the race hub.”
According to Squirt Director Dewet Marais, “Hatherly, along with fellow teammate Ariane Lüthi and well-known South African mountain bikers Robyn De Groot, Cherie Redecker, Stuart Marais, Gert Heyns, Matt Beers, Julian Jessop and Stefan Garlicki, will all be joining either The Squirt Rider Houses at the UCI XCO and DH World Cup races in Valnord, Lenzerheide and Val Di Sole or the UCI World Marathon Champs in Singen, Germany and we have also included houses at two European XTERRA Off-Road Triathlon events, where well-known South African triathletes Bradley Weiss & Theo Blignaut will join be joining us.”
Under the Squirt Rider House Program accommodation is supplied to riders free of charge, with the only cost to athletes being their travel and food. Squirt personnel also stay at the same venues and assist riders by coordinating travel arrangements and providing local knowledge. There is also an in-house official German language interpreter. Each of the athletes joining the program for 2017 are long-time Squirt sponsored athletes and product users.
U23 XCO mountain biker Julian Jessop, a first-time Squirt Rider House and World Cup participant is eager to make use of this opportunity “I have never competed in a World Cup so I am extremely excited to do my first World Cup races this year in Andorra and Lenzerheide. Squirt are making more opportunities for non-professional riders, like myself, to race overseas. This is a massive opportunity and I cannot wait to take it with both hands.”
Another beneficiary of the Squirt Rider House Program is Swiss XCM Champion Ariane Lüthi. Ariane is known for her culinary skills, and regularly trades these for clean-up duties afterwards. She describes a typical pre-race day: “The morning is mostly an individual affair, since not everyone has the same sleeping habits or, in the case of a XCO World Cup, the same practice times on the course. I go for my pre-race ride which takes about 90 minutes sometime after breakfast and go back to the accommodation for lunch. In the afternoon Team Spur mechanic JP gets my bike race-ready while I try to take a nap. Dinner is normally the time when all riders and staff come together and doing the dishes is naturally not the most sought after chore, but rock-paper-scissors is always a good way to solve any problems there,” says Lüthi.
South African mountain biker James Reid formed part of the 2015 and 2016 Squirt Rider House Programs and to him “it made a huge difference not only financially, but also in terms of ‘national spirit’. It shows that the Squirt brand care and are truly ‘proudly South African.’ To get together around helping young and ambitious athletes make it abroad is truly admirable, and I will certainly be a Squirt product user for life.”
Squirt is a proudly South African company and the long-term vision of the program is to pave the way for a South African mountain biker to scale the podium at a World Cup and/or World Championship event. Squirt believe that the talent and ambition are there, and that it is just a question of enabling their hopefuls to fulfil their potential.
The Squirt Rider Houses for 2017 Are:
Marathon World Champs - Singen, Germany - 24-25 June 2017
World Cup XC & DH - Valnord, Andorra - 1-2 July 2017
World Cup XC & DH - Lenzerheide, Switzerland - 8-9 July 2017
World Cup XC & DH - Val Di Sole, Italy - 26-27 August