West targets Lesotho Sky triumph
SUFFERFEST African Dream team manager, Mark West says they hope to collect as many points as they can in the upcoming Lesotho Sky race which starts tomorrow and ends on Saturday in Roma.
West said collecting more points will enhance their chances of qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Sixty-six cyclists from 11 countries will be battling it out in the 369 kilometers race which will start in Roma to Metolong on the first day. The second day will see cyclists riding from Roma to Malealea.
The third day will be a Malealea loop followed by the Malealea Monster on the fourth day before the cyclists ride back to Roma on Friday. The last stage of the race will be a Roma loop on Saturday.
West’s team will have six representatives in the race with the duo of Phetetso Monese riding for Alliance Insurance, Malefetsane Lesofe and Katleho Manasi (Standard Lesotho Bank) and Likeleli Masitise as the only Mosotho female will be partnering Bakang Ebudilwe of Botswana riding for Vodacom Lesotho.
He said the qualification for the Tokyo 2020 games is going to be tricky this time around as only top 20 teams in the world will make it. He said they need to collect points for them to move from their current ranking of 41.
“Such competitions are important for riders and also for countries because it is a Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) race where our athletes can collect points in it.
“Our country is now ranked 41st in the world and unfortunately for the Olympics only top 20 countries will qualify so we need to push to get there. It is through events like these that can help us acquire points and also to maintain our second position in Africa as we have Namibia breathing heavily down our necks,” West said.
He said they have a strong team which he believes can compete and has grown in leaps and bounds since the race was introduced back in 2011.
“I think we are strong enough to push the likes of France to the wire but it is not going to be easy because some of the best riders from around the world will be here,” he said.
West said they dropped points early this year as they missed the African Championship which was staged in Egypt so they need to recover from that.
“We missed out on the African championships early this year because they clashed with the Commonwealth games so we dropped points and lost our position in the top 30 nations,” he said.
Monese who is currently the highest ranked cyclist in the country partnered with South African Stuart Marrias in last year’s edition and they got position two. This year Monese will partner with Tumelo Makae who is currently based at the World Cycling Center in Switzerland.
This year’s edition is going to feature riders from South Africa, Botswana, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Austria, United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, France and Lesotho as the hosts.