The tour of hammer

The team had a cracker of an experience at the tour, the overall king of the mountains jersey,  a host of stage wins in the team comp and a rider on the podium every day and a second place overall!

Team ready to hammer

Stage 1 – 98km 750m 

and a fairly flat stage around the Paarl mountain. The route was a little disappointing after
the race organizers were forced to deviate from the planned 4 passes route.
amateur teams lined up at the start line itching to get the tour underway. A
few nerves and plenty of excitement racing in this category for the first time.
Not knowing what to expect from the other teams, the first few km’s gave us
time to check out the opposition and see who was there to race. From the word
go there were attacks, carefully watched and reeled in though before the gaps
got too big. 
Boys rolling to the start

After about 20km with numerous moves, things settled down a bit
and the peloton meandered through the rolling hills and headed towards
Windmeul. Shortly thereafter, we hit a left and started moving into position
for the only noticeable hill of the day. As we hit the climb the pace lifted
and the peloton shed a few riders. A few km’s later we turned right and headed
back towards Paarl where we were greeted with a fairly stiff cross wind from
the right hand side. This is when the hammering properly commenced as the peloton
strung out into one long line hugging the left hand side gutter. At this point,
positioning was important and we managed to get three Savages into the break of
10 riders, with about 35km to go. 

Bernard taking 3rd place in the sprint

After a few hard turns at the front, the
break established a decent gap which would see us stay away until the finish at
la Paris. The sprint was always going to be tough after hammering in the break
for an hour. 

The three that made the break of the day

Bernard managed to grab 3rd place on the day and capped off a
great start to the TOGH with Pure Savage taking the lead in the team
competition leading into the team time trial on Stage 2.

Strava link: Stage 1

Stage 2 – 38km Team Time Trial

Day two of the TOGH was an important, stressful and probably
the most anticipated stage for the team. With day two being the shortest,
but fastest stage, it was sure to test the suffering skills of the the
savages. After a successful first stage with three in the break and grabbing
the first position in the overall team competition, the tables can easily be
turned by one mistake in the TTT.
With a lot of competitors and team Realclean kitted out
with full TT bikes, the pressure was certainly high when we lined up at the
start chute. Forming some sort of TTT start positions we anxiously waited for the count
down to begin. At the start we had Bernard “The Centaur” Griesel leading the
savage train with Delano “Mr Baggins” Gallagher at the back. 
We started in pure savage fashion by almost dropping the two
back riders with enthusiasm. The team flew at 42-50 kmph for
the first section grinding hard towards Paarl and completing the first few
kilometers in record time. Towards the first turn into Paarl the pain
was certainly felt throughout the pack. Nardus gave El’boet a final
motivational shout before he pulled out of the advancing savage train to
complete his final turn at the front. 
Inside of Paarl we had a few close calls. The Klyde “Cannon ball” Stevens, living up to his name, almost took out both Delano and Brendon on a sharp
right-to-left turn. It was a bumpy ride outside of Paarl and Bernard finished a
massive effort in front driving the team forward. Kevin close behind his wheel,
mouth open gasping for air, wanting to keep a similar pace up the climb from Paarl,
put the final nail in the coffer for both Klyde and Calvin. This left the team
with 5 riders and half of the course still to go.

Pain train – Photo Capcha photography

The road was extremely bumpy which made this
section even more horrific. As we passed the turn-off towards Stellenbosch and
the dreaded Helshoogte climb the surface became a lot smoother and this is
where the team increased the pace and hammer towards the finish.

With a final kick before a small, but fast descent towards
the finish, everyone put shorter and harder sections in front. Delano put in
some huge power that lifted his back wheel and jumping to the left that almost
took out the Centaur. As we went down, Nardus got to the front to drive the
team into the final turn towards the finish. Bearing down on the line, Bernard and Kevin had their mouths gapping, Delano and Nardus had eyes full of tears and Brendon was just screaming hammer!! (Multiple times, so much so the crowd started to run) 
The team did a phenomenal job in the team time trial coming
second and only loosing 48 seconds to the Realclean chinas, that were
kitted out with TT bikes. Although this was the shortest ride from the tour it was
probably one of the most memorable ones for the team! Everyone will have the sound of Brendon
shouting Hammer to the team etched into their ear drums for years to come! 

Strava link: Stage 2

Stage 3 140km 1700m

“Hey I just met you and this is
crazy” – Another morning wake up call by Carly Rae saw the boys rise in high
spirits fresh off their TTT heroics the day before; ready to see what the
‘Queen Stage’ of 2016’s TOGH had install for them.
The boys got through what had now
become a routine, before hopping on the bikes for a little 14km warm up up to
the start (whoever thought this was a good idea didn’t realise what a tough day
was install for the boys)!
The racing began in earnest from
the gun, with attacks off the front as some of the teams tried to get riders
off the front before the climb. We don’t think anyone expected the warfare
Franshoek was about to witness. At the base of the climb a group splintered off
the front containing our man Bernard, who would go on to stake his claim for
the Climbing Jersey at the first summit of the Tour, putting in a blistering
attack at the final bend to get the points and summiting 2:20mins ahead of the
second group containing the eventual winner, Dean H, and the Savage boys,
Kevin, Brendon, Calvin and Delano.

Had to watch our backs in the peleton 😛

If we thought the ascent had
gotten the heart rate up, then we didn’t know what the descent had install.
Dean put in a massive turn on the descent as we set off in pursuit with the
Gensys and Oryx boys, dodging trucks and cars around blind bends (This was
terrifying and a low light in the race with the guys agreeing that for the race
to continue in future years the pass had to be closed off; with most of us
seeing it as a miracle that only the FRIB team came unstuck, hitting the wall
around one of the bends while dodging a truck).

Nardus being Nardus

Once down the pass Savage set the
initial pace (in hindsight not our smartest plan but who was to know what Dean
would do later in the day). By 65km in there was a group of 7
up ahead, containing Bernard, and a second group of 12 containing Kevin,
Brendon, Calvin and Delano. However here Dean put in the first of his big
attacks, unhitching Delano and 3 others (who bravely tried to get back but
eventually the elastic snapped and they got caught by the 3rd group on
the road at the 85km mark).

Brendon going vol gas for the 3rd rider over the line

The boys, lead by Kevin and
Brendon, brought Dean back; along with the first group who Dean had integrated
with by then. This status quo didn’t last long as Dean once more put in an
attack along with one of The Double Tree fellas and an Oryx guy before eventually Dean setting
off on his lone voyage to the finish.

Bernard crossing the line for 3rd

All this had happened before the
final ascent of Du Toits Kloof. Bernard made his move on the climb, bringing
with him another of the Real Clean boys who eventually made his move giving
Bernard 3rd for the day, but bagging the Climbing Jersey which he
would hold until the end.

Stock image of Delano deep in the pain cave

Kevin lugged his big frame up Du
Toits to finish high up, with Brendon and Clavin following behind to cover the
top 4 positions for the team. All the boys gave it their all in some scorching
heat as Du Toits became a sauna. Once done with the ascent we
still had to get home which saw us rack up 175km for the day, climbing 1700m in
some brutal conditions.

The podium for the day, JD, Dean and Bernard

Thanks to the support we had on
the road, with Jess being joined by the Savage Team Compact members, Renate,
Wally and Bernie (and Gary) as well as a guest appearance by our future
sprinter Marcel John Stevens and his mom.

Brendon with the second youngest Savage member

Quirky moment of the day must be when
Klyde stopped to help Nardus change his tyre on Franshoek before Nardus dropped
the hammer shortly thereafter and finishing ahead of him by the end….Savage!

Strava link: Stage 3

Stage 4  144km 1600m

With everyone still feeling the after effects of day 3’s hill top finish on the top of Du Toit’s Pass day 4 loomed as a sizeable challenge just to finish. By this stage the team Real Clean had emerged as the team to beat and also held the yellow jersey.

The day started with a neutral zone out to the base of the Paarl side of Du Toit’s Pass. A right turn towards the pass signaled the end of the neutral zone and the pace increased significantly. Things were looking good until Brendon signaled he had a puncture. Being good team mates all of us pretended we hadn’t seen or heard anything and carried on following the leaders. Eventually though guilt got the better of Delano and he turned around to help Brendon. We would later learn that Brendon and Delano went hard and fast up Du Toit’s together in pursuit of the leading group ending up with a similar strava time up Du Toit’s.

Bernard adding to his KOM haul
The pack snaked its way up the 13 km pass with more and more casualties and the climbing got faster led by the red jersey holder, one of our own – Bernard. One by one Klyde, Elbert, Nardus, Calvin and finally Kevin fell off the pace while Bernard dropped the entire peloton to claim yet another set of KOM points. The Du Toit’s descent was always going to be dangerous since the road was not closed but we all got a nasty shock when we found just how many trucks we had to overtake on the bends at 70km/h. The tunnel at the bottom of the descent was surprisingly easy to navigate as by that stage the group had broken up quite significantly.
Stock photo of Kevin in pain cave
The 50 odd km between Du Toit’s and Bain’s Kloof was taken at quite a leisurely pace which allowed Kevin and eventually Calvin to join the pack. It turns out Nardus was just minutes behind the pack at one stage but was unlucky not to catch the pack and finished as our fourth man across the line. It was when Calvin joined the pack that he found team Oryx actually had a man 4 minutes ahead of the pack going for the stage win – naturally they were quite content to sit back and relax. Real Clean had other ideas though.
So much suffering
Real Clean’s strategy became clear at the bottom of Bain’s Kloof – catch the leading Oryx man on the final climb. The 9km climb started out at a pretty serious pace around 37km/h with the effort steadily increasing. One can assume Bernard ensured the pace got even more serious on the second half of the climb – we wouldn’t know – we were not there to see it. Instead we had to console ourselves with the fact that Kevin would stay on the yellow jersey’s wheel and make sure nothing got out of hand. Unfortunately it seems Dean from Real Clean ,with the extra power from yellow jersey was planning to descend the other side of Bain’s Kloof at a pace which not even Kevin could match and that was the last we saw of them.
Kevin going over
The last 30km after the descent of Bains was unfortunately a rather solitary one for some, punctuated only by a on the fly bottle grab from Jess and Johann, a less than quick stop at the final water table, and out of breathe conversations with one or two stragglers from the other groups.

Kevin on the gas
The order in which we finished day 4 was as follows: Bernard, Kevin, Calvin, Nardus, Elbert, Delano, Brendon, and Klyde. 

Strava link: Stage 4

Stage 5 85km 850m 

After a great showing again by Bernard on stage 4 wrapping up the King of the Mountain competition and looking in sublime form it was decided to try and bring him to the base of the last climb on the front of the race.
Pinning on the KOM

It was therefore Brendon’s previous day puncture that got him the job of marking anything that tried to go off the front. After three or four attempts and the luck of some traffic a break away of 4 including Brendon got away.

Instagram from the break

As the team preferred it all come back together Brendon was as useful as Valverde in the break away. In the break was an Oryx, Frib and EOH rider, After 50km we were joint by two Double tree riders.

Bernard coming in 7th
The group worked well with Brendon skipping turns while looking over his shoulder for the peloton. The peloton let the gap go up to 6:30 minutes at 70km and the gap would become too large for the charging peloton to make up. As the breakaway turned onto the road Torres the monument the Oryx rider dropped his chain and in very anti-contador behaviour the group sat up and waited for him to rejoin. 
Brendon grinding away to 3rd on the stage

The fireworks happened very quickly on the climb and within the first 100m the finishing order of the stage was decided. The rider from Frib took the win with Kris from Oryx finishing just ahead of Brendon in third. Shortly after 4 other savages finished, all in the top 15 securing a team win for the stage!
Hammering gradients staring at the stem!

Strava link: Stage 5

What we loved about the Tour of Good Hope:

The Tour of Good Hope enabled a lot of the team to get their first taste of stage racing. The feeling during the evening after the third stage was unforgettable as many wondered how they would walk to bed, let alone smash stage 4. The team competition is also a massive draw card as Savage enjoy suffering together, the TTT is a good indication of this. The format allowed great riding against other very evenly matched teams and really brought so many different dynamics to the event which you do not get in individual racing.

Bernard getting the KOM jersey

The road marshals were really incredible, they were with us for the entirity of the event, never once did we feel worried about the traffic, they navigated us through towns with ease and enabled great racing to be had on sometime tricky roads while keeping us safe.

The water stations that we used and the staff that manned them were great and a real treat when needed. We know some people had issues with regard to water but we did not encounter this at our stops.

The photographers managed to capture some of the suffering we went through each day, we really appreciate that you took the time to photograph the amateur teams and not just the Pro’s where the majority of the sponsors lie.

Team Oryx – Capcha photography

The other teams, during the tour we had an amazing opportunity to race against guys with very similar abilities, which made the racing even that more exciting. We constantly were watching every break to see how many riders Real Clean, Oryx, Genasys, Double Tree, FRIB or Star team had managed to get into the break. Not only the racing but the sportsmanship shown between the teams was amazing, not once did we hear anyone shout at another rider, other support vehicles helped other teams and other teams riders even stopped to fill other teams bottles. We think the teams that took part really made the tour memorable.

King of the mountatin with director sportif 

Our support staff, at the end of every stage Jess was there shouting at us and then showering us with steri stumpies and ice cold cokes. This is the best feeling you can imagine once you have been slogging up a pass for 35 minutes swearing at yourself. Thank you Jess for the hours you spent in the sweltering heat waiting for us to pass  each day! Also to all the parents and wives that came out to cheer on the boys and hold shoes, water bottles, car keys, asthma pumps, protein shakes, sun glasses and anything else we did not feel like carrying at the start. Without you guys we would have lost our cars probably and would have suffered a lot more than was necessary.

What we thought was kak about the tour:

We will keep this brief as the Tour  really was amazing and the sponsors really do care about the sport.

The timing, the event was plugged as a team event were the team aspect would be a thriving competition, which on the road it was, however afterwards it got a little chaotic as on the first day two of our riders are still not correctly timed and the first day team stage prize was given to a different team. We just think before entering next year we will make sure to check if it is timed by Racetec before we enter, well thats a lie, if Genasys enter a team, we will enter because we cannot have those vaalies come down to the Cape and have an easy time. (A time nobody may be able to tell them, but a time nevertheless)

Winners of stage 5

ASG if you are reading this, which you probably are not, here is a link to Racetec.

Responding on social media, to flat out ignore people asking your twitter handle a question is poor form, yes we know its a technique to avoid any negative topics associated with the event but sometimes a complete head in the sand approach is less than ideal. What a lot of riders wanted to know was that the times were wrong and that you were handling it. A lot more teams and riders would have respected the organisers for taking ownership of the error and committing to fixing the problem. We did appreciate the apologies and did understand that sometimes its out of your hands.

Our own podium as ASG did not have the times 

Prize giving, rather have the prize giving in the morning before the start of each category, that way there is 100% certainty of the results and the entire field can see the presentation.

Bernard the winner of King of the mountain!!

With all that said, we so enjoyed the Tour of Good Hope we have entered the ASG Jock Tour.