All photos: Wayne Reiche
This stage is probably among the toughest stages in any official mountain bike race in southern Africa. It is 86km of pure grind and grit. For the first half of the stage, riders had tricky river crossings to deal with, and battled up and down technical climbs and downhills. They eventually descended into the notorious Valley of Desolatio. (or as it is commonly known among less fit riders: the Valley of Death.) Apart from being a challenging place to ride a mountain bike, it must be one the most beautiful places to do so.
The second half of the race was a slog on district gravel road. Today, a strong headwind made the 42km from waterpoint 2 all the way to Roma challenging, even for stronger riders.
The elite riders started the day conservatively. Renay said afterwards that their approach was to wait for the second placed riders to attack. As on the previous days, the leading group was whittled down to Daniel, Renay, Stuart and Phetetso. With 8km to go, the four were still together and it was set up for a final sprint. The pace of the German South African pair over the final kilometres got the better of Team Vodacom Lesotho and gave Daniel and Renay another comfortable win.
Futher down the line the true essence of Lesotho Sky was showing. Elite riders gave an opposing team a helping hand with a broken crank, and groups of suffering soldiers took time to stop and chat with the supporting locals. There were party vibes at every waterpoint and weekend warriors discovered they are capable of way more than a Saturday morning coffee ride.