Meet the ACE-The Sufferfest Lesotho MTB Team

The ACE-The Sufferfest Lesotho MTB Team is Africa’s newest team to register as a UCI MTB Team and what sets us apart is that we are the first black African team to gain the UCI status and many of our riders have risen from very impoverished beginnings to become serious mountain bike riders. Our team kit proudly features an historic portrait of the great Basotho Chief Moshoeshoe.  Renowned for his tenacity, wisdom and bravery, Moshoeshoe continues to inspire our riders to strive harder and reach their full potential.

Lesotho riders have been participating in South African races for many years, but with sporadic funding and inconsistent race attendance, we were not seeing the progress that we had wished to see.  The purpose of the ACE Lesotho team is to promote the level of cycling in Lesotho and to give riders an opportunity to race more competitions. The team is recognised by the International Cycling Union (UCI), giving special access to major races and making it one of only two African teams ever to attain this professional UCI MTB Team status – the other team being the Kargo Pro Team in South Africa.

Team photo from the AfriSki SA XCO Cup race in Lesotho.
Team photo from the AfriSki SA XCO Cup race in Lesotho.

The team has been able to maximise limited funds and has competed in over 10 internationally accredited races so far this year including riders in the Commonwealth Games, Youth Olympic Games, UCI World Cup, UCI Marathon World Championships, UCI World Marathon Series and SA MTB XCO Cup Series.  This exposure also benefits Lesotho Cycling as team results also count towards Lesotho’s international rankings. The team has already contributed significantly towards strengthening the nation’s 2nd position in Africa.

Our main sponsor is “The Sufferfest Cycling Training Videos” based in Singapore/ Australia who are one of UCI’s innovative partners.

Other cash sponsors are Unitrans Lesotho and CDM Smith, an engineering firm that manages the Metolong Dam project in Lesotho.  Giant Bicycles South Africa has taken cognisance of the potential of the team and has so far generously sponsored two competition-level XTC Comp 29er bikes and they are working with to get more bikes for the team.  Unlike some other big teams in SA, our riders often have to share or loan bikes for the big races.

South Africa spectators may remember the gutsy performance of the Lesotho team in the 2013 World XCO Championships at Cascades, Pietermaritzburg, where our riders were clearly outclassed and dropping of the back.  However, in just one year there has been an incredible improvement as seen in the World Marathon Championships where our riders surprised many by finishing way up in the rankings and this was echoed in the results at Glasgow 2014.report in pictures 2-page-001

As we are approaching the end of the XCO season, we have managed to maintain a healthy rank of 44th out of more than 100 UCI MTB Teams in the world.  We are surrounded by teams with much bigger budgets and full equipment sponsors, but we are proudly holding our own and lifting the profile of African cycling. We are not quite up to the same level as SA’s pioneers Kargo Pro Team and teams like the famous Team Bulls – but we are also not that far behind!

The emergence of teams like ours from Lesotho is also a bonus for the South African MTB scene.  As the sport expands across borders, it will bring extra business for the cycling industry (maybe not that much but every little bit helps), access to more internationally accredited races and perhaps more attention from UCI our cycling mother body.

For more information about the ACE-The Sufferfest Lesotho MTB Team, visit the team’s website: www.ace-lesotho-mtb-team.info, follow @lesothocycling on Twitter or like the team on FacebookACE Lesotho MTB Team

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