Africa-Press – Lesotho. Lesotho has regained its second position in the African cycling ranks after a good performance at the African Continental Mountain Bike (MTB) Cross-Country Championships in Windhoek, Namibia, earlier this month.
Lesotho is ranked behind only South Africa by the International Cycling Union (UCI) in the MTB cross-country rankings. A total of eight riders represented Lesotho in the Elite and Under-23 men’s competitions at the African Championships with the support of Alliance Insurance and Nedbank Lesotho.
Nine countries – Lesotho, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mauritius and Ivory Coast – took part in the continental showpiece.
In the Elite Men’s category Phetetso Monese and Tumelo Makae finished highest in 11th and 12th place respectively while Ramohanoe Ramohanoe finished in the top 10 in the Under-23 race.
Their results helped Lesotho reclaim second spot on the continent and also move up to 39th in the UCI’s world rankings. National team coach Mark West said the rest of Africa is catching up and it is important Lesotho works hard to keep its high standing in the rankings.
“I would like to thank Alliance Insurance Company and Nedbank Lesotho for coming to our aid even though it was a last minute request,” West said.
“It was crucial for us to as a nation to participate in the African Continental Mountain Bike Championship in Namibia to reclaim our (second) spot.
For many years Lesotho has been ranked in the top 40 globally and second in Africa. However, in 2018 we lost our spot to Namibia because we did not participate in the (African) championship.
“The rest of Africa is catching up and it is important for us to work harder and ensure that we get better and do not lose our rankings.
It is a long journey ahead but with the support and they type of dedication we have from our players we will do well,” he said. According to West, the final results are not a true reflection of the race.
At the beginning of the event the race was a competition between Lesotho and South Africa, however, in the end, Team Lesotho did not get the final results they expected.
West said they have set high expectations and, although Lesotho did well, he insisted the team could have done better if things went in their favour. Nonetheless, West continued to say he is proud of Lesotho’s riders and their performances in Namibia.
Makae and Monese have been invited to train at the UCI World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, the home of cycling worldwide and a world-class training hub for athletes from developing countries.
“We are proud of the performance our cyclists showed and I am glad to announce that Tumelo Makae who came in number 12 in elite men after Phetetso Monese has been recalled to join the cycling world centre in Switzerland,” West said.
“This shows that his performance has improved and even the world sees his potential.
Not everyone gets a call back but his performance though it could have been better and he should have been in the top 10 showed the coaches that he is a dedicated hard worker and will be going back to Switzerland,” he said.
West pointed to a bright future for Lesotho cycling saying young cyclists such as Eric Ramohanoe showed great potential at the African Championships. Ramohanoe finished 10th in the Under-23 men’s event after nine South Africans.
West said Lesotho’s focus will be on fighting for a spot at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Speaking on behalf of Alliance Insurance, the company’s marketing manager, Limakatso Mokobocho, praised the leadership of Lesotho’s cycling national team and said their tireless efforts are not unnoticed.
“You performed well but I want more because I know that you are capable,” she said.
“You have what it takes and you have to ensure that we do not let our rankings slip through our fingers.
We should continue to set trends. We were among the first (sporting codes in Lesotho) to compete globally and do well. Let’s pull up our socks and do better because we can.”