Twice runner-up eyes top prize
The Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival continues to be one of the most prestigious one-day marathon titles on the mountain biking calendar and, having been runner-up in the past two years, Julian Jessop is hoping to claim his first win on Sunday, May 27.
Having been pipped by Brendon Davids and Max Knox in the past two years respectively, Jessop’s drive to win this year’s event is evident as the student prepares to juggle his text books and mountain bike over the next few weeks.
“I have been doing a lot of riding on the weekends and since Epic I haven’t done too much so fatigue isn’t a problem. It’s just managing my studies and my riding that’s key,” the PYGA/Euro Steel star mentioned.
“I just want to go out there and make it right this year! You can’t concentrate too much on what the other guys are doing,” he said, adding that he would rather manage and focus on his own race.
Having ridden to the African Jersey title with Matthys Beukes at the Absa Cape Epic and the two joining up for the three-day KAP sani2c just two weeks before the Karkloof Classic, it’s going to be a busy period for the youngster.
His focus will also soon shift to the cross-country discipline as he eyes a spot at September’s UCI MTB World Championships in Switzerland.
“I am aiming to ride in the Val de Sol and Andorra World Cups in July which will hopefully help me qualify for the World Championships.”
But exams come first.
The 60km marathon course at Karkloof has been enjoyed by thousands over the years, including some of the nation’s top marathon and cross country stars.
The Karkloof region is synonymous for its flowing, exciting track and it’s also one of Jessop’s favourites around the country.
“The trails at Karkloof are insane!” he said. “I definitely think that the trails in the Karkloof are some of the best in the country and they suit my style of riding.”