22-year-old Lesofe and his 34-year-old mentor Monese – an Olympian mountain biker – finished the 69km stage in only 3hrs 30min in spite of breaking a chain and having to repair it alongside the trail.
Their team name is The Sufferfest African Dream Team, but the diminutive couple looked as if they could easily ride today’s stage again as they breezed across the line.
“We took a bus from Maseru to get here and it took 12 hours-plus, which is not the best before a big ride,” said Lesofe. “But we had a good ride and I felt strong. It’s a dream come true for me to come to this event with its awesome trails and awesome everything.”
Monese competed in the 2016 Olympic mountain bike cross country event but broke his chain at the start. He has many event wins to his name and is now well known in the Mountain Kingdom for mentoring younger Lesotho riders. Many have gone on to become accomplished riders.
He also won the midweek event at last year’s FNB Wines2Whales, but with a different partner.
“I like this race a lot,” he said. “That’s why I keep coming back.”
They weren’t the only international riders from a mountainous country in the field. Switzerland’s Yves Eisenegger and Roman Sigg were taking part for the first time and were upbeat after finishing towards the middle of the field.
“The weather was perfect and so was the cool singletrack,” said Eisenegger. “The signposting was good too.”
Sigg said the race was “awesome” and the temperature and conditions were perfect.
Also taking part were eight Swedish riders as part of a tour put together by elite woman rider Jennie Stenerhag and others.
Stenerhag, herself Swedish, and South African Mariske Strauss finished second overall in the FNB Wines2Whales Chardonnay event at the weekend.
“I enjoyed today more than the first three days,” laughed Stenerhag when asked about the different approach to the elite women’s race at the Chardonnay and today’s ride. “Today was about enjoyment and not suffering.”