After finishing the World Cup in Pietermaritzburg four of the team travelled north and into a small country called Lesotho for the first ever UCI ranked race to take place there. Sitting at 3200m it was going to be a tough challenge in the thin air but the organizer’s had done a good job with the course and facilities and we spent the week getting used to the new climate.
For our Junior Billy Harding this race had added importance as it forms part of the new World Junior Series.
In the Elite men’s race David Fletcher was under some pressure after being dropped from the British Cycling Performance program and not showing his usual form in both Cyprus and Britain he needed a good performance. We were all confident as we knew Dave’s form was good having been racing towards a top 30 in the World Cup before a late crash gave a different story on the results sheet.
Dave started well and was quickly into the lead group sitting 4th wheel and keeping to the race strategy. By lap 3 Dave had moved ahead of National Champion Phillip Buys into 3rd and was sitting on the wheel of 2nd placed Rourke Croeser. It came down to the final lap where Dave attacked on the big climb pulling out a 20 second gap and taking a fantastic podium place showing he is back in form and ready to prove he is the UK’s No.1.
Ben rode to a 16th position with some fatigue starting to catch up with him after his exploits in the Cape Epic.
Mariske went into this race in great shape with two wins in her previous SA Cup races but this time she would face Olympic athlete Candice Neethling for the first time this year. Mariske proved once again what great form she is in and cemented her place as South Africa’s top female mountain biker winning the race by 8 minutes in a breathtaking display.
In the Junior race Billy raced to a good 7th position after a puncture prevented a top 5 position. It was a dramatic improvement in form for the youngster who will now go back to Britain with renewed confidence.
Lesotho had been both a class 1 race and an adventure but it proved to be the perfect end to our time in Africa!