Riders rewarded for star performance
LESOTHO’S top cyclists, Phetetso Monese and Teboho Khantši, are set to join Christian Schmidt and Darol Howel of Sky Events in next month’s Wines2wales Race.
The three-day event starts on 7 November and takes place in Cape Town, South Africa.
Sky Events founder, Christian Schmidt, told a media conference held on Tuesday in Maseru that the duo were being rewarded for their good performance in the recent Lesotho Sky race, which attracted 81 riders.
Khantši and John Ntuli of South Africa ended the six-day event in fifth position, while Monese and Sipho Madolo also of South Africa, were sixth. The race took place from 20-25 September in the districts of Maseru and Mafeteng.
“This year’s race was superb,” Schimdt said. “It was, by far, the biggest and best in terms of first-time professional riders.
“The winners were also debutants and finished the race more than an hour ahead of their runners-up.”
Schmidt also paid tribute to local riders who “proved their worth” among the big field of professionals from South Africa.
“The four top teams ride for a living and I think it was remarkable for our guys to have shown so much character. We will be taking two members of the Academy of Cycling Excellence (ACE) Mountain Bike team with us to the Wines2wales race in South Africa in November, as a result of their excellent performance.”
According to Schmidt, nine of the 81 riders who took part in last weekend’s race were ladies, which he said proved the event was growing. Two of the ladies, he noted, were professionals. However, all the female riders were from South Africa.
On his part, ACE team manager, Mark West, said: “People might look at the performance of our riders in last year’s edition of the race where they came out second and think they didn’t do well this time around, when that is not the case. As mentioned earlier, the four teams at the top were pros, but I am happy with the standard of our riders; they keep on improving with each race.
“There is also depth in talent among the riders, so I am proud of how these guys performed. I think the two partners of Monese and Khantši helped get the best out of them although Madolo was struggling a bit.”
In his remarks, Lesotho Cycling Association president, Sehaule Mpopo, said the race was good preparation for next year’s African Cycling Championship to be held in Morocco.
“These boys must take it from here and go top of their profession because I believe they had the much-needed challenge as preparation for the upcoming African Championship,” Mpopo said.
“I would also like to thank all the race’s sponsors because we couldn’t have made it without their support.”
Liepollo Tsekoa from Alliance Insurance Company also spoke highly of the race and local riders at the press briefing.
“As sponsors, we are pleased to see the race growing year by year, while local riders have continued to make us proud,” Tsekoa said.
Palesa Ntlhakane of Standard Lesotho Bank shared the same sentiments and further pledged to sponsor the race for the next three years.
“We are proud of the Sky Events team for this race and will sponsor this race for another three years,” she said.
Meanwhile, South Africans Max Knox and Rourke Croeser, who ride for Biogen, were the winners of the race, with the Scott Factory Racing team of Matthys Beukes and Phillip Buys coming second. James Reid and Jens Schuermans of RECM Versluys scooped third prize, while Guy Niv and Shlomi Haimy of Team Israel were fourth. Khantši and Ntuli of the Standard Lesotho Bank team were fifth, with Monese and Madolo of the Alliance team coming sixth.
Seventh position went to Malefetsane Lesofe and Tumelo Makae of Vodacom Lesotho and Total riders Lechesa Tohlang and Paseka Makhebesela ended the race in eighth spot.
Sky Events handed awards to outstanding riders at the weekend.