The Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival continues to be one of the most prestigious one day marathon titles on the mountain biking calendar, and with two second place finishes in the last two years Julian Jessop is hoping to claim his first win at the race on Sunday, 27 May.
Having been pipped at post 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 and just try and manage what you can control and hopefully I can get the win this year.”
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 of riding for Jessop.
A busy few weeks of marathon riding coupled with the pending international season, his focus will also 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 Cup’s in July which will hopefully help me qualify for the World Championships but that is later in the year; I’ve got exams to write first!”
Marathon and cross country have many elements in common despite the difference in length and Jessop has refined his training style that he does not have to change what he does depending on the discipline he is preparing for.
“The interval training and speed training are important for both disciplines and it’s important that I don’t neglect one discipline so my training is geared towards making me a better all-round rider.”
Sunday’s 60km marathon course is one that 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 Jessop is looking forward to getting back out onto some of his favourite track country wide.
“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 do suit my style of riding.
“With the three climbs in the middle of the race and fast single track descents it plays into my hands coming from a cross country background.
“It is always such a fun race for me and the trails are so well maintained that I look forward to taking part every year,” he added.
It is often a title that KZN riders want to put on their championship lists and with Knox coming to KwaZulu-Natal to take the title in 2017, Durban’s Jessop is hoping that he can claim back the honours for his home province.
More info can be found at www.karkloofmtb.co.za