The Sufferfest ACE Lesotho Mountain Bike MTB Team News
Last Saturday, the ACE-The Sufferfest Lesotho MTB Team scored its first victory on foreign soil.
It wasn’t at the UCI World Cup in Albstadt where the cream of world XCO riders were assembling, but the humble town of Bothaville for the Free-State XCO Series. Free-State Cycling had put out a challenge to its neighbours in Lesotho, North-West Province and Gauteng Province and our team of riders answered the call to arms emphatically.
At the end of our 4 hour drive, which included a stop at a local bike shop to pick up parts that cannot be found in Lesotho and waving at all the Unitrans (our proud sponsor) trucks along the way, we arrived to a bustling scene of at least two hundred riders getting ready for the race – much more than we had anticipated. All eyes stared at our riders making a striking impression in their professional Pactimo ShiftGear Team kit and Oakley eyewear.
As riders assembled for the start of the race, it became clear that there was no seeding and no special favours for the visiting UCI MTB Team – our riders were stuck at least five rows back from the front line on a very crowded starting grid.
The gun fired and it was a mad scramble to get to the front before the main climb and single-track. With all the dust flying it was difficult to see, but our riders have been putting in some serious efforts speed-training with “Revolver” and climbing with “Angels” from The Sufferfest training videos, and the hard work paid off!
As the riders came round the feed/ tech zone after 5km in just 10 minutes, Phetetso was confidently setting the pace at the front on his Giant XTC Comp 29er bike and Teboho was working his way through to 3rd position. Young Tseko was just behind in the following group.
By the end of the 2nd lap, Teboho and Phetetso had completely broken away with only one other rider able to hang on to the pace. The Giant bikes were coping excellently with the conditions and Squirt Lube was keeping the chains running smoothly despite the dusty conditions. The three leaders continued to gain ground on the others until the penultimate lap where Teboho lost control on a dusty corner and came off his bike. He tried hard to catch up, but eventually settled for 3rd.
In the front, Phetetso kept gradually increasing the pace until the last lap was a virtual sprint. His rival had nothing left and there was no need for an all-out sprint for Phetetso to claim this his maiden victory on foreign soil.
Tseko continued and finished well inside the top 10, but the race was more difficult for our only girl, Likeleli, whose bike was having technical problems. We had not been able to buy all the parts we needed and the old bike could not cope with the pressure of the race. She did however, soldier on bravely until the end of the race and that was an important lesson.
To cap a great day, the newly elected President of Lesotho Cycling, Mr. Sehaole Mpopo, was there to witness this great day and congratulate the riders on a momentous achievement.
Thank you to all who have put faith in us. This is the first of many victories to come. Special thanks to our main sponsors: – The Sufferfest, Unitrans and CDM Smith, as well as Giant Bikes South Africa, Squirt Lube, Pactimo, Dig Deep Coaching and Lesotho Sky for the loan of the bikes!