Among the clouded peaks of the kingdom of Lesotho, the famed “Roof of Africa” brings the Hard Enduro season to an epic finale. While Graham Jarvis is considered to be one of the favorites in this race, a young challenger emerges from the pack looking to shake things up.
South African Brett Swanepoel will start first on Friday’s stage one of the Roof of Africa in Lesotho, after setting the fastest combined time on Thursday’s Round the Houses lap race and mountain time trial. The 2015 third-place finisher outclassed 41-year-old Brit and defending champ, Graham Jarvis, and compatriot Travis Teasdale.
Staged in what is affectionately known as ‘the mountain kingdom’ the day started with the traditional lap race through the streets of the capital city, Maseru. Jarvis, along with other pre-race favourites Andreas Lettenbichler and event rookie Alfredo Gómez made their intentions clear early on, however it was the locals who made most of the running.
It’s often been said that you can’t win a stage race in a prologue, but you certainly can lose it. Often then, riders tend to play it safe, making sure they save enough for days two and three.
Alfredo Gómez crossed the line in the fastest time on the brutal 170km first day route of the Roof of Africa in Lesotho on Friday. The Spaniard finished just faster than Brit Graham Jarvis, with South African Scott Bouverie in third.
Aside from the sheer difficulty of the stage, the story of the day was the time made up by Gómez, who annihilated the 10-minute deficit to Jarvis with which he started the day, after an indifferent time-trial on the Thursday. Never do your best work first, they say, and the injured Wade Young’s dad, Nigel, called it at the first support zone. “Watch out for Gómez,” he said. “He’s got Jarvis’ number.”
After three days and nearly 400km of racing, a mere nine seconds separated the top two riders. The final stage was a classic race of attrition, with the elder statesman’s experience of the epic race in the highlands of the mountain kingdom gradually wearing down the Spaniard on his first visit to Africa.
Graham Jarvis successfully defended his Roof of Africa title at the final Hard Enduro of the year. The 41-year-old out-gunned a charging Alfredo Gómez, with South African Scott Bouverie rounding out the podium after three days of brutal racing in Lesotho.