Dream trip for Makae

Dream trip for Makae

MASERU – Promising Sufferfest African Dream Team rider, Tumelo Makae, will soon be rubbing shoulders with the world’s best cyclists.

On Monday, Makae will jet off to Switzerland for a six-month training stint at the World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Aigle, Switzerland.
The centre houses the headquarters of the International Cycling Union (UCI) and is a renowned elite coaching and training facility. It contains a 200 metre indoor velodrome track, a BMX racing track and was built in 2002 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the UCI.
Each year the centre hosts the world’s top cyclists and this year one of them will be Lesotho’s Makae who will be based at the facility until September 28.

As African Dream Team manager Mark West puts it, the getaway is a massive opportunity for Makae.
“One of our young riders, Tumelo Makae, who won a silver medal at the African Championships last year, has had an opportunity of a lifetime – he is going to Switzerland,” West said.

Makae’s trip is part of an Olympic Scholarship which has been given to the cycling starlet by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) through the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC).
The grant will cover Makae for three years and will allow him to return to Switzerland every year until the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
“He is going to be there for a total of three seasons, which is 2018, 2019 and 2020,” an excited West told thepost.

“For this year he will be leaving on Monday and will come back in September. He is going to train at one of the world’s best facilities,” he added.
“I have been there myself; I know how great the facilities are, so we are very thankful for the opportunity.”
Training with the world’s best in Switzerland is the next step in what has been a rapid rise for the 21-year-old who only took part in his first South African Junior Series event in January 2016.

Last May, Makae won silver at the African Mountain Bike Continental Championships in the men’s Under-23 cross-country event in Mauritius.
Through the specialised training at the World Cycling Centre, Makae now has a golden opportunity to join cycling’s elite riders and, hopefully, qualify for the 2020 Olympics.

Makae is not the only member of the Lesotho based Sufferfest African Dream Team who will spend time at the WCC. He will be joined by Botswana’s Bakang Ebudilwe.

“We have a young rider, Bakang Ebudilwe, who joined our team last year. She is going there thanks to the same (Olympic) scholarship through the Botswana National Olympic Committee,” West said.
In further good news for Lesotho cycling, West revealed the Sufferfest African Dream Team has been registered amongst the UCI’s Mountain Bike (MTB) Teams for 2018. It is the fifth year in a row the team makes the cut.
“We are proud to have made the standard because every year it gets tougher,” West said.
The UCI’s requirements are so stringent, in fact, that the African Dream Team is the only African Team to make the 2018 list. In total, 87 teams from across the world are registered. Europe dominates with 73 teams, South America has nine, Asia has three and Africa has only one representative.
West said spirits in the Dream Team were already sky-high after having four of its riders chosen by the Lesotho Cycling Association to form of Team Lesotho at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April.

The cyclists are 2016 Olympian Phetetso Monese, Likeleli Masitise and Makae in the MTB discipline and Malefetsane Lesofe in the road race event.
On Monday, Lesofe left the country for Australia where he will train and attempt to crack the road race qualifying standards before the Commonwealth Games begin on April 4.

“Lesofe has left for Australia through a lot of support from Alliance Insurance and LNOC,” West explained.
“He has an opportunity to reach the qualifying standards for Commonwealth Games. He has a coach in Australia who will be hosting him and it is a big opportunity for (Lesofe).”

He added: “As you know, here in Lesotho we don’t do a lot of road racing. We are stars when it comes to mountain biking but not road racing. I think there are already three races lined up for him (in Australia) so it is a big opportunity for him. The coach is taking care of all his expenses apart from the flight, so we don’t have to worry about food or anything.”

West, however, remained doubtful over Lesotho’s participation at this year’s African Championships scheduled for April 21 and 22 in Cairo, Egypt because they come only a week after the Commonwealth Games.
But, even so, West is excited about the year ahead.

“We have seen a lot of progress in the (African Dream) team throughout the years and 2018 looks to be an exciting year,” he said.
“First of all, we have the Commonwealth Games coming up and we are very proud that four of our riders have been chosen by the cycling federation to represent Team Lesotho at the Games.”

Luciah Phahla

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