Today has been a beautiful day in the mountain bike kingdom. The 5th and penultimate stage was a new spin on an old classic. In the past we rode from Ramabanta to Malealea, this year we turned it around. After two horrid days in cold and wet conditions, riders we treated to conditions so perfect, they would have been disappointed to see the finish line.
Mathias Flückiger and Ralph Näf took yet another stage win. The Swiss champions were just too good for the rest of the field. Stuart Marais and Phetetso Monese of Team Vodacom Lesotho put in a tremendous effort to stay with the stage winners, but with 15km to go, the Swiss had more in the tank and stepped on the gas.
The battle for 3rd place was betweenFocus RAPIRO Racing and 24/7 Security Services. After Jan Withaar and Grant Usher’s terrible day in the field yesterday, they had to dig deep to restore some honour with a 3rd place finish. The German duo of Team Focus RAPIRO Racing however had other plans, the taste of the podium was just too good. In the final stages of the race, Marvin Augustyniak and Felix Fritzsch were just too fresh and strong.
The African Dream Team duo, Katleho Manasi and Malefetsane Lesofe continued where they left off yesterday. They finished 5th overall and established a safe 21 min cushion between them and Team Standard Lesotho Bank.
After finishing the stage, Ila Stow commented on Twitter: “Such a treat riding through such a beautiful country.” You know you are having fun when you’ve just completed a tough 63km and you use the words “such a treat” to describe it.
Tomorrow we take the scenic drive to Semonkong for what must be the most spectacular MTB route. It’s also a public day, where more people can get to taste something of the Lesotho Sky experience.