TEAM BONITAS THANKS KAKA WITH ENGEN DYNAMIC WIN
The big wheel turned favourably for professional cyclist, Luthando Kaka (Team Bonitas), on Sunday when his team sent him across the finish line first at the Engen Dynamic Challenge in Wellington, near his home city, Cape Town.
It was Kaka that made one of the strongest statements in modern South African sport when last month, he selflessly offered his place in the African Games cycling team to Team Bonitas teammate and current national champion, Darren Lill.
Despite being one of the most successful black cyclists in the country, Kaka felt that his selection wasn’t based on form and that Lill would be a better bet to ensure South African success in Maputo at last month’s continental showpiece. Anchored by Lill, the South African men's team shone, winning seven out of a possible seven medals.
Kaka, who has represented South Africa a number of times as a Junior and Under-23 racer, has spent the past two years racing for Malcolm Lange’s Bonitas team, the most successful professional men’s road cycling team in the country over the past three years. His role on the team has been that of a workhorse and he’s fulfilled it with distinction, according to Lange, always sacrificing himself to put a more illustrious teammate in a winning position.
“Luthando is one of the hardest-working, most dedicated professional sportsmen I’ve ever known. He is a great ‘team player’ and understands and performs his role as a support rider really well,” said Lange.
But on Sunday, through the rolling hills of the Winelands, it was Kaka’s turn to step into the limelight and claim the victory in the 99km race. It was his first major win as an Elite category racer and his first victory in the Western Cape since he won the Western Province Under-23 road race title in 2009.
“It feels good to win. We win a lot as a team, which is great, but when you are that guy that crosses the finish line first, it’s really special,” said Kaka, immediately thanking his teammates for the success. “Team Bonitas showed again today how important team work is in road racing. Thanks to my amazing teammates and the team staff for making today’s win possible.”
It took a solo break by Cape Town-based racer, David Garrett (Daiken), to shape the final outcome of the race. Such was the team’s dominance that all seven Team Bonitas riders eventually filled the first seven places.
Garrett attacked four kilometres before the race’s main climb, Riebeek Kasteel, a three kilometre ascent just before halfway. He went over the summit still in the lead, but was soon caught by all seven Team Bonitas riders, who had dispatched the others in the front group on the way up the climb. In the final five kilometres, the Team Bonitas put in a series of attacks, which eventually saw Garrett drop behind and settle for eighth place.
“In the early part of the race, everyone was waiting for Team Bonitas to make the racing, which is a negative approach. So when we got the chance, we showed just how racing positively can be to your own benefit,” explained Kaka. “It’s a good confidence boost for the team with some of the big end-of-year races coming up.”
Engen Dynamic Challenge, Wellington:
Leading results – Men:
1 Luthando Kaka (Team Bonitas) 2hrs 15min 35sec
2 Hanco Kachelhoffer (Team Bonitas)
3 Johann Rabie (Team Bonitas)
4 Jason Bakke (Team Bonitas)
5 Darren Lill (Team Bonitas)
6 Songezo Jim (Team Bonitas)
7 Gawie Combrink (Team Bonitas) all same time
8 David Garrett (Daiken) 2:15:49
9 Charles Solomon 2:16:19
10 Carl Pasio 2:16:22
10th October 2011