Two of Lesotho’s top cyclists, Phetetso Monese and Teboho Khantši, left for Austria on Thursday where would be competing in the four-day Protective BIKE Four Peaks Race scheduled for 17-21 June.
The European race is 270 kilometers long and would present our two runners with the ultimate test of endurance. The duo qualified for the race after coming second in last year’s 350-km Lesotho Sky.
Yet the fact that the two riders have been on even longer races should work in their favour as the Lesotho Sky is not only 70 kilometres longer than the Four Peaks, it also takes six days to complete.
Monese and Khantši ride for the Academy of Cycling Excellence (ACE) team and Austria presents them with the prefect stage to prove they are not only local champions but can also hold their own against the world’s best.
In-fact, Monese, Khantši, Tumelo Makae, Malefetsane Lesofe, Mapanya ‘Meke, Likeleli Masitise and Katleho Manasi were left shattered last month after being told their trip to the African Cycling Championship in Rwanda had been cancelled due to lack of funds.
I will not dwell much on what happened between the Lesotho Cycling Association and Lesotho Sports Reporters Association which led to the cancellation of that trip but after watching these riders in action for so long, the move left me very sad as that also robbed them of the chance to qualify for the Olympics Games next year.
The Rwanda competition, for those who might not be aware of it, was also going to be used as a qualifier for the 2016 Olympics to be held in the Brazilian city of Rio De Janeiro, so missing it reduced their chances of making it to the multisport event.
Following the Rwanda debacle, it was indeed pleasing to see Monese and Khantši finally leave for Zurich, Switzerland from where they would drive to Germany for a warm-up race and then depart for Austria.
There is no doubt this is a chance of a lifetime for the athletes, who will be the only Africans at the tournament, and it is also worth acknowledging Sky Events (Pty) Ltd –the Maseru-based events and adventure tourism company which organises the Lesotho Sky Mountain Bike Stage Race which has really put the kingdom on the map, if you could forgive the cliché.
Winning the Austria event is not going to be easy for our two riders, but they have promised to do their best to ensure they don’t bring the country’s name to shame.
Monese is Lesotho’s current cycling champion, but was beaten into second place by Khantši in the 55 -kilometre Malea-lea Monster Race held a fortnight ago.
After taking part in several international and local competitions over recent months, I have no doubt the riders go to Four Peaks in prime condition, and ready to do all of us who care about the image of this country, proud.
Having said that about our riders, I would like to turn to football and wish the national team the best in today’s Africa Cup of Nations Group J qualifier against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa.
Likuena have not been at their best in recent months, and hopefully, they will find their rhythm against the Ethiopians and also in the other qualifiers versus Algeria and the Seychelles.
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