Prologue prowess: Indonesian Rama sets the stage for a showdown with Chris Keeling from the UK on Saturday

  • 24 Nov, 2023

While races are not won or lost in the prologue, it does serve as a quick litmus test for contenders before the main event.

Indonesian rider Rama Teguh Ady Pratama set the tone for Saturday’s race by winning the prologue in the Elite category on Friday afternoon, following two practice sessions at the Pokhara Enduro.

Rama, representing his native Ertap Sport Management, was the only biker to complete the prologue run at Mahaprabhu Dham in under three minutes, clocking in at 2 minutes 54.86 seconds.

“It was a difficult but enjoyable route,” he said after the prologue. “It was rocky and loose with some off-camber stuff, but I ran a well-planned lap that wasn’t too difficult.”

Coming to Pokhara after finishing second at the sixth edition of Monduro in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, he was the only one in the 13-man field to complete the 1.42 km Pro Trail (SS5) in under three minutes.

Rajesh Thapamagar of Nepal won the Monduro title, with defending champion Keeling finishing third to complete the podium.

The prologue result has Keeling of the United Kingdom trailing the leader by more than seven seconds at 3:02.74 heading into Saturday. Prachit Thapamagar of Nepal finished third in 3:10.37.

But Keeling, who was born and raised in Nepal, is eager to fight Pratama on Saturday.

“I just wanted to ride without taking too many risks and take smooth lines. But I’ll try to make up the difference where I can tomorrow and see what happens,” Keeling said.

Rajan Bhandari of Himalayan Single Track will enter Saturday’s final with a lead of more than 8 seconds in the Men’s Masters ‘A’ (30-39 age group).

He finished the prologue course in 3 minutes and 21 seconds, while Mangal Lama of Scott MTR crossed the finish line in 3:29.35. Gravity Nepal’s Kunga Woeser finished in 3:38.32.

Bhandari was pleased with his prologue performance. Explaining his admiration of the trails, he said, “It was technical and slippery, making mistakes easy. Following practice sessions, I tuned my bike. Things are going well in these extreme conditions, which gives me even more confidence.”

Suraj Pandey, representing Temple Rides Nepal, established a lead of more than 12 seconds in the eight-man Men’s ‘B’ (40-49 age group) field.

Pandey finished the trail in 3 minutes 37.57 seconds, Nayan Manandhar in 3:50.04 seconds, and Rabi Karki in 4:00.54 seconds.

In the e-bike category, Prashanna Gautam finished the prologue run in 8 minutes 51.29 seconds, just ahead of Vishwas Modi, who finished in 10:07.35.

Meanwhile, Nepal’s Laxmi Magar looked strong heading into Saturday’s Open Female race, with Mingmav Yangzi Sherpa, Singaporean Eevon Chia and Danish rider Stine Heiselberg likely to challenge her.

Chia, is all praise for breathing beauty of Pokhara, will be looking to take inspiration from her decent performance in the Singapore Open Enduro last month. 

Sherpa, on the other hand, said that she would go for broke on the race day. “I will give it my all. I’m looking forward to an exciting race.”Tik Gurung, Sulochan Rajbhandari, Lal Bahadur Ale, and Saisab Pradhan appear to be podium contenders in the Veteran’s (50+) category. Raj Gyawali and Shailendra Bahadur Khatri are also in the running.

While the spotlight is typically on seasoned professionals, an intriguing story is unfolding in the Junior category, where a burgeoning rivalry is quietly simmering.

This rivalry in the eight-rider field is expected to be significant not only for the immediate competition but also for its potential to shape the landscape of professional cycling in the years to come.

Prologue Results: