After a five years’ absence, the Federation of Cycling Lesotho (FCL) has resolved to return the national road cycling championship with the return set to be staged next month.
The competition was last held in 2016 and got abandoned due to a number of reason such as lack of interest from the riders.
According to the events coordinator, Sehaole Mpopo, they are planning to host the Criterium National Championship on April 4 2021, which will be followed by the Road Race National Championship on April 11, 2021. He, however, said the venue is not yet locked so it will be confirmed later on.
“We have reconsidered to bring back the Road race cycling after five years. It was in consideration since last year because we observed that there are a number of cyclists and coaches who have been focused on it now hence the decision to have the competitions again,” Mpopo said.
When the event was abandoned, the organisers had cited that lack of interest and enthusiasm from the riders was the main reason. And this was also reiterated by Mpopo.
“There was a growing concern of safety by riders while some had already lost interest as far as road cycling is concerned. Most riders were now opting for mountain biking,” he said.
“All this was influenced by the dangers that the riders were being subjected to on our roads daily owing to reckless drivers,” he said.
He said this time around they are going to be using venues with roads that have less traffic for the safety of the riders.
“We are looking at either Koro-Koro to Mahlabatheng or the area around Ha-Majane and possibly the area around Airport road, Moshoeshoe one” he added.
Mpopo stated that the race will for now not be recognised by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) because they did not apply for that in time as registration closed in January while they were still finalising things.
He said the upcoming race is a pilot phase to see if indeed Lesotho cycling fraternity is ready for the return of road cycling.
He added that the competition is without a sponsor hence there will be no monetary prizes.
“There will be no monetary prizes because the event does not allow that due to the new laws that we have and even with sponsors on board, however, as I said, this is a pilot phase and we will invite sponsors next year if all goes well” he said.
During the time where the road cycling events were abondoned, Lesotho made a bold move and sent Teboho Khantši to the 2019 Africa Games in Rabat Morocco who did not perform well as a result of lack of competition time.
Khantši told Newsday sport that he will be competing in the coming months but is not hoping for a big performance as he is still recovering.
Khantši was one of the four cyclists who were struck by an unlicenced driver during the Matekane Group of Companies (MGC) Cycling tour in March 2020. The taxi had ploughed into the cyclists in Katlehong, merely a kilometre from the starting point at MGC Park.
He said although he will be competing, the concern is still there on the recklessness of drivers on the roads towards cyclists.
“I am happy that road race competitions are back but I am still concerned about the way drivers treat cyclists. I think all users of the road should respect others, whether a pedestrian, rider or driver,” he added.