Monese, Selepe win Tour de Maseru


MASERU – Top cyclists, Phetetso Monese and Relebohile Selepe won the inaugural Tour de Maseru Mountain Bike Championship last Sunday. Monese came first in the male elite category’s 20 kilometres and Selepe in the female section of the same distance, with the race times yet to be officially announced.

The veteran cyclist Monese crossed the finish line ahead of Pitso Posholi and Mohooana Makatile, who came in second and third positions, respectively. Selepe, on the other hand, beat Tšepiso Lerata, who settled for the second position.

“It was fairly good, even though it was quite challenging because some of my competitors were riding e-bikes,” said Monese in the post-race interview. “So I was quite worried that they were going to outpace me, but at the end of the day, I prevailed.”

Monese said his competitors with electronic bicycles, or e-bikes, had an advantage from the beginning compared to him and others with ordinary bicycles. Electronic bicycles are equipped with an electric motor that may be activated to assist or replace pedalling. However, Monese said he still prefers his ordinary bicycle.

“I think I will stick to my bike. I won’t change it,” he said. “In fact, I was testing whether e-bikes might be okay for me or not, and I have realised that my bike is still good to race. I am still okay without an e-bike.”

The former African Dream Team rider said he did not take much consideration of his clocked time since he was focusing on his competitors with electronic bicycles. “I was saving energy in the first lap and started increasing pace in the second lap. So I did not bother much about my winning time,” Monese said.

According to Posholi, the competition was extremely tough. “The competition was very tough, with the route quite difficult,” said Posholi. However, Posholi knew that it was going to be difficult.

“After all, races like these are always difficult. You always have to increase your pace in order to outclass your competitors, and that is what we like about cycling. We put ourselves under pressure, hoping to do better next time,” he said.

On the other hand, Selepe said the race was quite challenging. “I used to run longer distances than today’s distance, so I am okay,” said Selepe. “Of course it was quite challenging, but I prevailed, though there were steep loops.”

For example, Selepe competed in the Bocheletsane Classic’s 50 km in Mantšonyane, Thaba-Tseka, about three months ago. She used to compete in road bike races, but she has lately also competed in mountain bike events.

“I like mountain bikes, and I want to encourage a lot of girls to join cycling because currently only three of us (girls) are competing in mountain bikes and about five in road bikes,” she said.

The race was part of Selepe’s preparation for some of the national championships to be held before the end of the year.

“It was still part of my training because I like mountain bikes. Even when I am preparing for road bike championships, I still use my mountain bike,” she said.

The Federation of Cycling Lesotho’s (FCL) Public Relations Officer, Malefane Morie, said the competition in the race was average. “The competition was just average. You cannot say it was high or low ebb,” said Morie.

“Of course, this is because some of our mountain bike riders did not compete.” Tumelo Makae was one of the local cyclists who did not participate in the Tour de Maseru.

He is currently in Switzerland, where he is competing for his international club, the Pumpforpeace Cycling Team. Seutloali Morie came in first in the Under-14 boys’ category, followed by Mahase Makatile in second place. Thato Tlouoe and Pontso Makatile were crowned the champions in the mixed category in 20 kilometres.