Local riders lose bikes at Lisbon UCI pump track race
The bikers forced to compete using borrowed mountain bikes
MASERU – After losing their personal BMX bicycles along with the rest of their luggage on the plane to Portugal, Lesotho’s Mosito Mohapi and Khothalang Leuta were dealt a low blow when they were forced to compete in the Red Bull International Cycling Union (UCI) Pump Track World Championships held in Lisbon, Portugal over the weekend using borrowed bikes.
“All our luggage including BMX bikes went missing at the airport in Lisbon and we had to borrow mountain bikes to join the race. We only found the missing luggage after the race,” Mohapi told Metro on Monday.
After struggling to get acclamatised to the borrowed bike, Mohapi finished last in the race, clocking in 34 seconds among 33 elite riders from 17 countries.
His fellow rider, Leuta who also used a borrowed mountain bike appeared in position 31 among 34 top female riders, clocking in 38 seconds.
Federation of Cycling Lesotho (FCL) on Tuesday welcomed the two riders at Moshoeshoe I International Airport from Portugal.
FCL Public Relations Officer (PRO), Malefane Morie later told Metro that the borrowed mountain bikes were not suitable for the kind of race the two competed in.
“The race requires a BMX, mountain bikes are not appropriate because they have shock absorbers and are for a different terrain. The winner in the men’s category finished the race in 19 seconds while the rider who finished on position 32, ahead of Mohapi clocked in 24 seconds,” he said.
Morie said the two local riders were fully sponsored by RedBull. The rest of the team including the team manager, mechanic and coach were expected to join the duo later but were unable to due to financial constraints.
“The COVID-19 pandemic was another blow that disturbed our plans, and we could not manage to get funding from the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) as we did not even put forth the request for the officials to join the duo in Portugal. LNOC only provided the athletes with pocket money for the trip,” he said.