Report by Sipho Mona, Team Manager: Team GT/Velokhaya/PPA.
Humid and varied weather conditions provided for challenging racing conditions as top riders from across South Africa gathered on the streets of Pietermaritzburg at dawn to compete in the 23rd MTN Amashova National Classic over 106km.
Riders wasted no time in attacking and there were group splits from the over 200 strong elite group as early as the Fox Hill climb, the riders vying for the King of the Mountains honours at the summit.
By the time they reached the top of the summit, the group had dwindled to 80 riders and split into three groups. The leading riders regrouped towards the Valley of a Thousand Hills and even though riders - from teams such as MTN, Medscheme, Neotel, Konica Minolta and House of Paints - tried to pull away, they were brought back by the group which was not going to let anyone escape.
With 30km to go, Team GT Velokhaya PPA riders were well represented and in top form. Songezo Jim launched a number of powerful, solo attacks which were highly effectively in shaking off the remainder of the bunch. Meanwhile, Luthando Kaka waited patiently for the race to reach the city of Durban.
As the riders went into the streets of Durban and with less than 5km to go, teams were now forming pace lines (lead outs) for their respected sprinters. While every team was fighting to be at the front, Luthando cunningly sandwiched himself in between other teams and his bravery, strength and experience paid off as he sprinted for the finish line, finishing in 6th position overall.
A brilliant effort from the Luthando and Songezo - and one which brought pride to the whole team and the LCA.