UNDER 23 mountain biker Alan Hatherly has confirmed he will include the 60km Illovo Eston Marathon - the feature race of Sunday 7 August’s Illovo Eston MTB Challenge – in his final preparations for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. The Olympic debutant was recently named one of the two Team South Africa’s male mountain bikers to do battle at the South American showpiece next month and with few races between now and his departure on 13 August, the Kargo Pro Cycling Team rider is looking forward to the race training opportunity this year’s Illovo Eston Marathon presents. “There are just under five weeks between now and race day in Rio and there aren’t many races on the calendar that I can use to keep the sharpness in the legs and stay race-ready, so the Eston is a great race for me to test the legs one last time before I leave and make sure everything is as it needs to be ahead of the Olympics,” said Hatherly. “The Eston’s 60km marathon course is a little longer than the cross-country distance we’ll be racing at the Olympics but with the King of the Mountain hot spot just a few kilometres in, the pace off the line at Eston is usually really fast and then it blows up and doesn’t ever seem to slow down from there. “Eston’s route also includes some great single track, which will give me a chance to stay on top of the technical side of things too, so it will be a good final hit-out.” The Illovo Eston MTB Challenge, which includes the 40km aQuellé Half Marathon, 18km Stihl Tala Family Ride and 10km Omnia Kids Ride, is a familiar event for Hatherly, however, the 20-year-old has surprisingly failed to impress at in the past.“Hopefully this is my year at Eston. I’ve always made a few mistakes or hit the wall there in previous years but it’s a race I really enjoy so it’s one I’d really like to win, especially this year with Rio just around the corner. “Hopefully there will be another strong field and it becomes a great contest and a real ‘sufferfest’ at the front of the race.” Entries for the challenge can be submitted viawww.roag.co.za and more details can be found at www.illovoestonmtb.co.za - Supplied.Eston’s route also includes some great single track, which will give me a chance to stay on top of the technical side of things too, so it will be a good final hit-out.