Big dreams for cyclists

Big dreams for cyclists

MASERU-Sky Events founder Christian Schmidt says the Sky Cycling League has big dreams for local riders.
The national cycling league, which stages monthly races, was launched last November and will end in September.
A first of its kind in Lesotho, the Sky League has kept local riders busy and the past three months have seen winners in different categories receive various prizes with races building up to the crowning of an inaugural champion in September when the final round of action will be staged during the ninth edition of the Lesotho Sky Race.
Speaking to thepost on Tuesday, Schmidt said the Sky League’s aim is to encourage young riders to participate and grow into the sport.

Each Sky League category, he said, averages 50 participants with the categories being the pump track circuit, a cross country lap race and a marathon.
It is a promising start and Schmidt said bigger things are in the pipeline for the league whose stated goal is to “train and support the next global cycling superstar from a community in Lesotho.”

“Velosolutions (a cycling company) in Switzerland are offering scholarships and stipends for riders that do well in Lesotho,” Schmidt said.

“We are developing a common goal of saying we want to develop young riders from Lesotho and those that show the most talent and are of the right age will be offered opportunities in sports, it could be scholarships or financial support with their schooling. So, the league has bigger dreams. In a year’s time, we want to see who the top riders are and how can we help take them further.”

All races in the inaugural Sky League season are being held at Roma Trading Post.
So far the response and turnout has been positive.
“We have standardised the format; it is always the same route and the same distance. We want to use the same routes and the same format so that we can compare the results over 12 months,” Schmidt said.

“Because the course is the same, people know the course (and) they can improve their results and also newcomers can improve their performances,” he added.

“We want to encourage young riders to come in the Under-14 and Under-12 categories. We want to develop and encourage young riders to participate and to introduce them to the sport in a safe way. We have seen above 50 riders across different categories, it has been a manageable format but obviously we would like to see more riders.”

According to Schmidt, talks are also at an advanced stage to secure sponsors for the Sky League.
The aim, he said, is to get more sponsorship on board in order to improve prizes for racers and an announcement should, hopefully, come soon.

“We don’t yet have things written down on paper but there have been discussions with sponsors and also within the Lesotho Sky team that we would like to see the sport grow,” Schmidt said.
“We have events but there is no consistency. On a month to month basis you will find that during the winter months there is nothing, then come spring there is Lesotho Sky, there’s Cape Epic, there are events locally and internationally. We have actually got the first sponsor that has committed to a monthly cycling league (and) it is something that hasn’t happened in Lesotho before. We started in November, this month there will be an event,” he said.

Schmidt said the hope is to secure a mega bounty for the first-ever winner of the Sky League in September.
“We allocate points and every event has prize money incentives for the riders to train but, over and above that, every rider in different categories will get points,” he said.

“The first race (of the Sky League) was in November and the league will finish in September,” Schmidt continued.
“During the Lesotho Sky there will be one day which will be the final of the league and the winner of the league will then get a bigger prize. Obviously, it depends on the sponsors; we want more sponsors in the league so that once a year there will be a bigger prize like a trophy for the winners.”

Tlalane Phahla

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