Monese wins Nedbank XC Series

Monese wins Nedbank XC Series

MASERU – Lesotho cycling champion Phetetso Monese continued his dominance of the local scene by winning the Nedbank XC Series Mountain Biking Championships last Saturday in Ha Tsiame, Masowe. The championships were hosted by the Lesotho Federation of Cycling along with sponsors Nedbank Lesotho and the event brought together the country’s top cyclists.
Once again, though, it was the 32 year-old Monese – who became the first Mosotho cyclist to compete at an Olympic Games in 2016 – who showed his class to successfully defend the title.
Overall, the lively but draining afternoon was another successful hosting of the Nedbank Lesotho XC MTB Series which began last year and is part of a four-year plan by Lesotho Cycling to regularly host international class mountain bike races in the country.

The Nedbank XC Series is certainly a welcome addition to Lesotho’s cycling calendar.
Mountain bike cycling is the only sport in which Lesotho consistently rubs shoulders with the world’s elite with the country ranked second behind only South Africa on the continent and 41st in the world by the International Cycling Union (UCI).

In comparison Lesotho is ranked 146th in the world in football and 125th in athletics, and the country’s growing international standing in cycling was shown by Lesotho’s hosting of the African Continental Mountain Bike Championships in 2016.

Through the Nedbank XC Series the plan is to build on Lesotho’s potential, raise the performance of local riders and, hopefully, see more Basotho qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games than Monese’s solo mission in 2016.
The fruits of the increased competition are already being seen.

Burgeoning star Tumelo Makae is in Switzerland at the World Cycling Centre on a six-month Olympic Scholarship and is one of the country’s brightest sporting hopes.
Makae left for Europe having tasted success on the Nedbank XC Series which is divided into to two stages. Two weeks ago it was the Cross Country race which is a fast, exciting racing around short technical laps, which was won by Makae.

On Saturday it was the turn of the wily veteran Monese in the longer, more gruelling marathon race which is 80 long kilometres in length.
Cycling federation vice-president Kutloano Lerata said the Nedbank XC Series is priceless for local riders.

“Last year it was successful and Nedbank promised to sponsor us again for four years; next year will be the third time they are involved with this race,” Lerata enthused.
“As the federation we are going to help Nedbank Lesotho with advertisement so that they can get something in return for sponsoring the race. We already have riders that we are preparing for next year. We are a new committee and we have realised there are some things we are not getting right and we are already working on getting those things right,” he added.
Last year’s success of the Nedbank XC Series also lured some of the sport’s local greats on Saturday.

One of them was Tumisang Taabe who was part of Lesotho’s first-ever team at a UCI World Championships in 2013 when he competed at the mountain bike Worlds in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

Taabe’s partner in that history making team? Monese. “Before (the Nedbank XC Series) our riders did not have a real platform to compete on,” Lerata explained.
“This race has helped a lot of them, even the veteran riders that were now losing interest in the sport are now coming back. For example, Tumisang Taabe. You know him, he is back now as a veteran competing.”

Nkheli Liphoto

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