THE champions of the 2013 Lesotho Sky mountain bike race, Phillip Buys and Matthys Beukes, are set to compete in this year’s edition, the event’s director Christian Schmidt has said.
Lesotho Sky is a 6-day, 390km team mountain bike stage race which has been held since 2011 in the Mountain Kingdom. The event attracts professional and amateur riders from around the world. This year’s race, which will be held in Semonkong and Malea-lea, will be held from 20-25 September 2015.
Last year, the race was won by Louis Bresker and Gert Heyns from South Africa with Lesotho’s duo of Teboho Khantsi and Phetetso Monese the runners up.
According to Sky Events director, Christian Schmidt, Buys and Beukes had already confirmed their participation this year along with a host of other big names in the cycling world, adding that it showed that the race was gaining popularity.
“I think the race is getting bigger year by the year as we are expecting a much bigger turnout this year with riders coming from as far afield as Brazil and some European countries, which will be good for the country’s economy especially in terms of tourism,” he said.
“The 2013 winners have also confirmed that they will be competing this year after they failed to make it to the event last year.”
Schmidt said 80 participants had confirmed their participation so far.
“This year’s event will be even bigger than before, and we have made a few changes to make it even better. About 80 riders have confirmed their participation but we are still expecting at least 10 more,” Schmidt said.
The race will begin in Semonkong on the first day as a time trial, with the race from Ramabanta to Malea-lea taking place on the second day.
On the third day, the competitors will ride in Malea-lea as a loop and then head back to Roma on the fourth day. Day five will see the riders race from Roma to Ramabanta, with the last day being a loop in Ramabanta.
“Unlike previous years, we have decided to move the time trial to Semonkong because we thought it would be a good place to promote Lesotho as a tourism destination because of the Maletsunyane falls,” Schmidt said.
This year, he said, there would also be a solo category unlike previous editions where riders had to be a team of two.
“We have decided to include a solo category for single riders although we will still have teams of two for the professional riders who will be competing for UCI (International Cycling Union) points,” said Schmidt.
“Last year’s winner, Bresker, will also be here to defend his title although it is still not yet clear who he will be partnering with this year.”
He said they were in the process of finalising the qualifications for Lesotho riders, with the names set to be revealed on Tuesday. The deadline for registration is 11 September 2015.
Schmidt said Lesotho’s number one rider, Phethetso Monese, would be teaming up with South African Sipho Madolo.
“Monese is a fast rider so we expect him to get even better this time around. He needed to team up with someone much stronger than him hence his partnering with Sipho and not Teboho like in previous years,” he added.
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