Luthando Kaka of Team Bonitas had the best homecoming present when he won the 2011 Engen Dynamic Cycle Challenge in Wellington on Sunday.
The route rolled through the Winelands after starting at Nelson Creek Wine Estate just outside Wellington before the only major climb of the race, heading up to Riebeek Kasteel around 30 kilometres into the race. Up until then, the peloton had stayed together before local boy David Garrett of Daiken GU made the expected attack up the climb. The peloton let him go until just before the crest of the climb where Team Bonitas lead the chase to close the 10second gap and the seven-man team started to ride away from the peloton with Garret stuck in the middle.
From there it was a drive to the finish by Team Bonitas as they continued to open the gap on the chasing peloton, which eventually grew to 1’10ÔÇØ. With David Garrett of Daiken GU the solitary rider not from Team Bonitas, the winner was always going to come from the Team Bonitas group and with 10km to go the attacks went off the front as first Jason Bakke and Johann Rabie attacked and opened a small gap.
Garrett tried to chase so Hanco Kachelhoffer marked the move. When Darren Lill and Luthando Kaka also jumped the gap, Gawie Combrink and Songezo Jim stayed back to shadow Garret.
In the sprint for the line, Kaka was awarded the honours, a fitting climax to a young career that started in Cape Town.
Kaka was identified by the Velokhaya development initiative in Cape Town when the Khayelitsha High School pupil was in matric seven years ago. Whilst studying multimedia and doing a stint at bicycling Magazine, Kaka decided it was time to go pro.
In June 2008 the 23-year-old made history when he became the first black South African road cyclist to become a permanent member of a European continental cycling team. His dream is to be the first black cyclist to compete in the Tour de France, cycling’s premier event.
In 2009 Kaka was approached by Team Bonitas (then Team Medscheme) and moved from the Cape to Johannesburg and tackle the next step in his cycling career. In January 2010 he was part of the Commonwealth Games baton relay when it visited Cape Town, and he cycled with the baton from Cape Town International Airport.
Kaka was emotional after his win. ÔÇ£I suffered in the heat in the last 10km of the race, but the team pulled me through and then gave me the win. To win here at what is really my home is something special and I’m grateful to the team that they gave me this win.ÔÇØ
1 Luthando Kaka Team Bonitas 2:14:25
2 Hanco Kachelhoffer Team Bonitas same time
3 Johann Rabie Team Bonitas same time
4 Darren Lill Team Bonitas same time
5 Gawie Combrink Team Bonitas 2:15:15
1 Maroeska Mattee 2:51:01
2 Cathy Carstens 2:51:02
3 Sara Bonner 2:51:03
4 Kelly Tome 2:51:07