Lesotho Sky 2016 Race Report Day 2:
The Malealea Loop took riders on the same route as the legendary Lesotho race, The Malealea monster. 52 km the route is a perfect blend of fast flowing single tracks, gnarly downhill switchbacks and endless climbs. Due to the involvement of the local community, this is as close as you can get to manicured trails in Lesotho. Needless to say, there were a lot of smiling faces at the waterpoints.
The route started with a short sprint on the gravel road leading up to the lodge and then took a sharp turn onto a fast and flowing piece of singletrack, ending with a rugged downhill that can take the enamel off your teeth. Riders set off at a frantic pace, with everyone, who fancy themselves in a single track, gunning for the best seat in the house. From there onwards it was basically up.
After the first 10 km, as the route went from down to up, the main bunch started to scatter.
Race leaders Daniel Gathof and Renay Goustra, together with Teams Vodacom Lesotho, Alliance Insurance and Standard Lesotho Bank stuck together midway up the Ribaneng climb, 15 kilometers to the second waterpoint. After that, Gathof, Goustra, Monese and Marais broke away and stayed together until the last turn on the infamous Malealea Monster. The pair roled over the finish line at a time of 02.39.30, with Vodacom Lesotho less than 2 minutes behind them.
Reflecting on Day 2, Daniel was acutely aware of the pressure from especially the Ace-Lesotho riders.
“It was a harder day than yesterday. The Lesotho riders rode a fast pace over the first 20 km. After that, Stuart and Phetetso stepped on the gas, especially on the climbs. It was only at the last turn of the final big climb, that we were able to drop them.”
“Phetetso was his old self today. We rode well, but just could not stay on their wheel. This is my first stage race ever, so I am happy to find my feet and learn from the experience. We will fight hard over the next couple of days to hold onto a podium position, but I doubt we’ll make up the gap between us and Daniel and Renay.” – Stuart Marais, Team Vodacom Lesotho
Cherie and Mariske had a great ride today with an overall 5th position. Mariske, however, crashed towards the end of the race on a tricky piece of singletrack. Apart from a bruised arm, she’ll be up and running again for the start of one of the toughest stages this week.
As the last riders crossed the finish line, smiling and keen to share the war stories, we were once again reminded that this race is much more than STRAVA times, podium results and racing snake bragging rights. Sharing ancient African paths that people still use to this day; being greeted by every child woman and man and discovering your inner power to tackle massive obstacles make this race a mountain biker’s ride of passage.