Illovo Eston MTB
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
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
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
“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
“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.
More information can be found at
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Illovo Eston MTB Challenge
Logo - JPEG
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.
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