Illovo Eston MTB Challenge Media Service

 No: eston1802

25 July 2018

Embargo: None

Written By: Dave Macleod

Jessop eyeing Eston MTB redemption

Eston - The new SA Under 23 mountain biking cross country champion Julian Jessop is chomping at the bit to challenge for the Illovo Eston title next weekend to erase the nightmare of 2017 that saw a certain victory slip through his fingers.

Jessop (Pyga/Euro steel) had been locked in a three-way duel with Andrew Hill and Stuart Marais, and looked to have powered his way to the front with just a few hundred metres to the finish line at the Eston farmers Club.

As he went into the final sharp left hand turn into the finish, he lost his front wheel and crashed heavily, allowing Marais through to claim the title.

21 year-old Jessop is on a high after impressively winning the SA U23 XCO title in Bloemfontein, followed a day later by a podium finish in the Sappi Scottburgh MTB race, and can now set his sights on toppling the big guns that always gather for the Illovo Eston showdown.

“This year I would definitely like to step it up one position, after crashing two hundred metres from the finish last year,” said Jessop.

“I am really looking forward to it. I have two weeks to prepare for it and get my form right. It is always a really good race and the track is always something I look forward to. I love the single track there.

He added that he will need to balance his cross country skills with the demanding marathon elements of the 60km race.

"The climb at the beginning can really hurt your legs and there is that key sprint at the top for the King Of The Mountain hotspot,” said Jessop.

“That dice normally sets up the race, and then there is another climb in the middle of the race, and the last twenty kays is also hard, you don’t get a free wheel at all,” he added.

Jessop said he was able to take a lot of positives out of his race last year, despite it ending in disappointment.

“I was actually feeling horrendous at the race last year. I was dropped and then managed to catch back up in the single track, but I was suffering.

“Near the end Andrew Hill had a puncture and then my tactics worked out well and set me up for the end sprint, only to crash!”

“Illovo Eston is definitely unfinished business for me,” he added. “You can be sure I will back off a bit when I get into that final corner but hopefully I can put right what went wrong last year.”

Jessop is almost certain to be nominated for the South African Under 23 team to the XCO World Championships later in the year, putting the youngster under pressure to finance his trip, as his current sponsorship only covers his domestic racing activities.

“I have two years as an Under 23 so I really want to get as much as I can in terms of experience at an international level while I am still an age group rider.

“Hopefully I can do deals with sponsors who share this vision to enable me to get there!” he concluded.

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2017 Illovo Eston MTB Challenge runner up Julian Jessop will be looking to bury the nightmares of last years race when he takes on the country's best riders at this years edition on Sunday, 5 August. Anthony Grote/
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