SKY Events founder Christian Schmidt says everything is in place for the sixth annual 392 kilometre Lesotho Sky Mountain Bike Race to be held over six days from 19 to 24 September 2016.
He said on the first day, cyclists would follow the Ramabanta to Malealea route, on to the Malealea loop on day two and then head to Roma on the third. Thereafter it would be Roma to Ramabanta (fourth day), Ramabanta loop (on the fifth day) before the race ends in Semonkong.
“All is in place for the race and we are happy it has been growing annually from 22 participants to 100 this year,” Schmidt said during a media briefing at Avani Maseru this week.
“This is one of the top races on the continent and it is a Union of Cycling International (UCI) Class 1 event with international points for world rankings. Lesotho is ranked 33rd in the world and second in Africa behind South Africa, with Namibia in third position.
“For the first time, we will have a Mosotho female rider Likeleli Masitise who will partner a Motswana Bakang Ebudilwe in the female category. We also have cyclists from South Africa, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Uganda, Australia, France, United States of America and Botswana.”
He also revealed telecommunications giant, Vodacom Lesotho, had injected M250 000, making them the main sponsor of the race.
“Alliance Insurance have been our main sponsor for the past five years, but this year we also have Vodacom Lesotho on board who have injected M250 000 that has been used for logistics.”
Schmidt said Lesotho would be represented by 11 cyclists in the race, with eight of them from the ACE Mountain Bike team.
At the same event, Alliance Sales and Marketing Manager Maki Mokobocho said they were proud to be associated with the sport which had been growing in the country over the years.
“We are so proud to have been there since day one and happy we gave them the chance to grow cycling in the country in which we are now ranked number two in Africa. It is such a great achievement for the country,” she said.
Mokobocho also urged the Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission (LSRC) to render more support to sporting disciplines that stood better chances of bringing home medals at major international competitions.
“For a long time, LSRC and its stakeholders have been investing so much in sporting codes that have been struggling to win any medals for this country in big competitions. I would like to urge them to rethink and focus on those that stand better chances,” she said, calling on more companies to invest in sport.
“Cycling is the best ranked discipline in this country and that means they just need more support to prosper. We are grateful for the support extended by Vodacom Lesotho and hopefully more companies will follow suit.”