the small student town in the Cape Winelands which is known for the Maties and
their rugby plays host to the newly named Stellenbosch Cycle Tour. It was not
only the name that had changed this year, the route has also been
changed to include the new Hellshoogte road, replacing the old winding pass
road. This year also saw the departure of the shorter distance route from the
week of fighting off post DC depression with some soft mid week rides and trips
to the physio the team were as ready as they would ever be for The Stellenbosch
Cycle Tour. The team had gotten mixed seedings due to the finishing positions
at the PPA One Tonner so five Savage’s lined up in $, three in % and two in 1A.
This was the first time that the majority of the team had ridden in the elite
men group and so they were a little apprehensive to say the least.
In the first two kilometres of Helshoogte the pace was almost sedate, if 23km/h up Hellshoogte can be called sedate. Then as if the guys at the front got a message that we were nearing the red line the pace increased up to 30km/h. This started to stretch the field out and the team made sure to try and avoid any dead wheels and stayed in the first half of the field. As the last kick approached Donovan had made it into the breakaway over the top with the remaining four of us left in the second of three splits over the top of Helshoogte. Once we had descended through Pniel, Savage got to the front of the chasing pack and clawed our way back up to the breakaway by the time we turned right towards Franshoek.
|A little Savage dig on the front. Photo T Bruwer.|
Once the groups had come together there was an attack off the front of the field by the two Giant riders, Johann Rabie and Evan Carstens. The team did not notice any urgency in the field to chase them down just a slight acceleration on the small rollers to keep the pace fast. The boys regathered and did a head count and were pretty impressed that all five had made the split.
The race hammered along with not too much stress keeping the average above 41km/h. The ramp up Windmeul was the next big test and the team found that the run up to the climb was more of a test than the climb itself. Once heading back to Stellenbosch the attacks off the front of the field started becoming more frequent.
With 20km to go and two breakaway riders Brendon followed an attack by Alex Heward and Steven Hayes to see if could possibly close down a gap to the breakaway. The only thing that came of the attack off the front by Brendon was the below.
|Brendon going for a break. Photo T Bruwer|
As the team regrouped and had a laugh at Brendon’s breakaway attempt it was decided that we try and make sure we get one rider in or around the final break of the day. If only they had tweeted us when that break was going to go. Just before crossing the N1 the break went and the boys dug really deep with 3 of them turning themselves inside out to get Donovan into the break.
As the final climb came by it was more of the same for the boys as they hammered up the short but soul destroying climbs and made sure that we were all together again coming into Stellenbosch. The boys hammered on the front to the approach to the left turn up into Helshoogte road. The team had got up the last little bump in great position with Szymon and Donovan on the left and Delano, Bernard and Brendon on the right hand side. As the road swept down to the left there was a clash of wheels and the rider in front of Bernard hit the deck causing Bernard to pull a pretty stylish endo and stayed upright! Although this looked pretty cool this took Bernard, Brendon and Delano out of the sprint, luckily the sound of chaos seemed to spur on Szymon and Donovan who finished 42nd and 33rd respectively.
|The team relaxing after a Savage effort.|
The other savages that took part were Travis, Elbert and Simon in % coming home in a savage 2:25, Adie and Pottie in 1A who hammered home in 2:31. All the boys finished in the top half of their start groups and had a savage day out.
Shout out to Theo Bruwer for some the awesome photos taken during the ride, so privileged to have such great photographers in the Western Cape. If you rode in the elite bunch check out the link here to photos from the race.
To check out one of the team’s Stellenbosch Cycle Tour on Strava click here.
The team are looking forward to some suffering in the summer racing season of 2015!