Race Report: Lesotho Sky 2018 – Day 1
The Metolong Loop
The 8th edition of Lesotho Sky started with a 60 km route around Roma, totalling 1,523 m elevation. The riders were put through their paces with a route that had something for everyone. Technical climbs with up to 27% gradients, rocky enduro-style downhills, rolling hills and a lot of fast, fun supertube singletracks.
At the sharp end of the pack, the race was dominated by two UCI teams. French riders Allard Basile and Remy Bourdon of Team Rebloch Power took the overall win with a buffer of 40 seconds. Crossing the line in second was the newly formed South African duo Reinhard Zellhuber and Andrew Hill, riding under the banner of Garrun-Tib Insurance. The two teams were hot on each other’s heels until the final technical descents, where Andrew’s front suspension started to lose pressure. This allowed for Allard and Remy to crack on the pace and finish ahead.
The first two Lesotho teams crossed the line 30 minutes later, with Tumelo Makae and Phetetso Monese of Alliance Insurance grabbing the 4th place, just two seconds behind overall 3rd place winner Axel Strauss. Team Standard Lesotho Bank crossed the line twelve seconds behind Monese and Makae. Vodacom Lesotho has sponsored the only UCI women team participating in the race this year. Likeleli Masitise and Matshidiso Ebudilwe, represent Lesotho and Botswana respectively.
The trails around Roma is notoriously tough, but has a way of taking you to the edge of mountain bike nirvana. Race director Darol Howes put together a cracker of a stage, with the route taking riders to the edge of Lesotho’s most sacred mountain, Thaba Bosiu. Some of the more gnarly trails had a Kingdom Enduro feel and it’s clear that since the start of the enduro event, the Lesotho Sky trails have taken a cue from its younger sibling.
At the blunt end of the pack Hendrik and Hedwig Lemmer managed not to finish dead last. The fact that they were ahead of the sweeper arose suspicion from UCI race commissaire Deon Steyn. Team Groot Lem might be under scrutiny from here on in.
1st: Team Rebloch Power – Allard Basile and Remy Bourdon – 3:00:50
2nd: Team Garrun-Tib Insurance – Reinhard Zellhuber and Andrew Hill – 3:01:19
3rd: Team Alliance Insurance – Tumelo Makae and Phetetso Monese – 3:29:48
4th: Team Standard Lesotho Bank – Malefetsane Lesofe and Katleho Manasi – 3:30:00