Lethokwe wins epic MTB cross country championships

By Ketshepile More

GABORONE - National MTB champion, Gontse Lethokwe, defended his title at the Epic 2022 Botswana Cycling Association (BCA) National Mountain Bike (MTB) Cross Country (XCO) championships in Gaborone on Sunday.

Eleven national titles were decided, among them; elite, youth, junior, vets, Mmasters and grand masters.

This year’s nationals were also a first for the newly appointed BCA executive committee, under the leadership of Kagiso ‘Gii’ Potongwane.

Lethokwe reclaimed his national stripes in a 34km six laps course with a time finish of 01:23:47, while van Zyl, who has not been visible in the local cycling scene, but has been active in international race events, clocked a smooth 01:27:13.

The third position went to another competitive rider, Thato Madimabe who completed the race in 01:30:19.

Bakang Ebudilwe defended her title in the Elite women’s category, finishing 22km four laps in 01:19:47, with Wame Ntwayakgosi coming second in 01:35:02.

Jamieel Noor registered a 01:33:45 time finish in a six lapped 34km to be awarded the Under 23 men national title and Lebopo Kono claimed National Under23 women’s title in 01:28:47.328 after doing 22km in four laps, without contest.While these four elites took home the national champion honour, the battle was between Lethokwe and van Zyl.

The two displayed the fastest, competitive neck and neck elite men National championships, purposely riding together and pushing each other to win the title.

“I enjoyed the race and also welcomed the new development in the route with the introduction of some technical course, which we desperately need as competitive riders,” Lethokwe said.

He said following his dismal performance at the Dimension Data Route73 MTB, he applied his opponent’s advice regarding being strategic and smart when in a race.

“I listened to van Zyl when he told me to be smart on the race, and I attacked on the last two laps and I also fuelled appropriately this time,” giggled Lethokwe on how van Zyl’s advice helped him retain his championship title.

He further encouraged BCA to improve and add more technical courses such as drops and maybe rock gardens, to give them that competitive niche in preparing for international stages. Van Zyl also gave Lethokwe a pat on the back on his stellar performance.

“Gontse was the stronger guy today and rode the race very well, he learnt well and I am proud of him and looking forward to riding with him more on coming races,” van Zyl said.

He also applauded the fast speedy race route course and said it was ‘a nice and challenging course with rocky downhills and loose gravel in between the rocks, and overall a great track.’

It was a busy day for the young ones, especially among the boys as Simphiwe Potongwane, Subho Ghosh and Ted Makgetho went in hard for the Youth title.

Potongwane and Ghosh were fast from the start demonstrating technical skills on the descends and ascends and going bar to bar in a battle for the championship title.

But it was the young Potongwane who paddled the three lapped 17km in the rocky descend and won the
title in 00:54:22 ahead of Ghosh’s slight margin of a second in a finish of 00:54:23 and Makgetho settled for third spot in the podium with a 00:59:11 time finish.

The next BCA nationals would be the road and time trial scheduled for September on a day to be announced. BOPA