Monese eyes top on Lesotho Sky

NTHAKO MAJORO

MASERU –Local cyclist hopeful Phetetso Monese is optimistic about becoming the first Lesotho national to clinch the Lesotho Sky race title when this year’s edition of the UCI class 1 MTN Stage takes off next month. The upcoming event is scheduled for Maseru from September 24-29.

Monese is confident about ending Lesotho’s draught at the race following his triumph at last Saturday’s Nedbank National Marathon Championship in Maseru, in the absence of the Switzerland based, Tumelo Makae, who has lately become his biggest tormentor.

Monese, who represented Lesotho at the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil and the 2019 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia successfully defended his National Marathon Championship in a highly competitive competition between him and a host of other top local cyclists including Paseka Makhebesela, Malefetsane Lesofe and Katleho Manasi. The trio finished the race on second, third and fourth positions respectively.

Monese told Public Eye in a post-race interview last Saturday that the Nedbank National Marathon Championship was his last competitive race ahead of the main event, the Lesotho Sky Race. “This was my last race before the Lesotho Sky and it was a good preparation on my part side, which I hope will help me win the race for the first time in history,” said Monese.

He added: “I am happy that I managed to defend my title at today (Saturday)’s championship, which is enough motivation ahead of the Lesotho Sky.” He admitted that his last weekend victory was not an easy walk in the park for him. “The competition was tough, another challenge was the windy weather which made cycling a little difficult.

“On the other hand, competitors themselves were quite tough and determined to win, especially Makhebesela, Manasi and Lesofe.” Monese said the trio was always on the lead along with him for the better part of the first lap of the race. He only managed to open a sizeable gap between himself and the trio in the final lap and second lap of the 65 km race.

“I started to attack in the second lap and capitalised when there were only Makhebesela and myself on the lead. That was after I realised that he was not comparatively stronger cycling downhill. At that particular time I took advantage and led until the end of the race,” he also said. Before the Nedbank race, Monese competed in the National Cross-Country Championship which was held on August 4. He finished second at the Cross-Country Championship, behind the defending champion, Makae.

That was for the second time Monese came second behind Makae in the same race. The first time was in the last year edition of the event when Makae started to dominate the local cycling scene. Makae was not among the contestants at the last weekend championship and Monese believed that his presence could have made the competition more interesting. “I believe the competition could have been tougher had Makae been in the race,” Monese said.

He had partnered with South African cyclist Stuart Marais in last year’s edition of the Lesotho Sky Race and appeared second. That was the second time in a row that the pair appeared in second place in the same race. Monese plans to partner with Makae in this year’s episode of the race. “Although I think I will still partner with Marais this time around but I would prefer to be Makae’s partner now.”

Meanwhile Lesotho’s female cycling champion, Likeleli Masitise, also defended her Nedbank National Marathon Championship title last Saturday. Masitise outclassed Ntsoaki Moeti and Liteboho Letlala who appeared on second and third positions respectively.

Tumisang Taabe won men’s veteran section, followed by Lethusang Ntili and Sello Moerane while Reentseng Nakeli came first in the women’s veteran section, with ’Mamohau Leuta and Lerato Malakane on second and third position in that order. The winner in the 30km junior section was Eric Ramohanoe, while Karabelo Shai won the in girls’ category. Kabelo Makatise won the boys’ youth section, while the girls’ youth section was won by Tšepiso Lerata.

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