SOUTH Africa U23 champion Julian Jessop continued his dream month when he beat off the challenge of Tyronne White in a dash for the line at the 60km mountain bike race at the Husqvarna Classic Mid-Illovo MTB Challenge and Trail Run on Sunday.
The 20-year-old Jessop – who is coming off a dream 12th position finish at the recent Absa Cape Epic and so claimed the prestigious African Jersey title with Matthys Beukes – and White approached the finish together. However the young PYGA Eurosteel rider had too much firepower for his more experienced challenger and powered across to line to win in a time of 2:32:08, two seconds ahead of White.
Quattro ROAG Series leader Andrew Johnson claimed third position just 29-seconds further back and his third position in Sunday’s second leg of the series, combined with his win in the opening leg at Wartburg in February, ensures the Ballito resident holds top spot in the race for South Africa’s richest prize for a mountain bike series.
David Low and Brennan Anderson rounded out the top five.
In the women’s 60km race, Christie Leigh Hearder made her first appearance at a Quattro ROAG Series event of the year and notched up a convincing five-minute win to put the pressure on series leader Andrea de Boer. De Boer was second and keeps a firm grasp on the series lead going into the third leg at Karkloof in May, but will be aware that Hearder is lurking.
One of the most intriguing dices of the day was the women’s 40km Safire MTB that saw matric pupilÂ Tiffany Keep edge out Frances Janse van Rensburg by two minutes, while schoolboy Travis Stedman was clear winner in the men’s 40km race.
In the trail runs, Derek Wasserfall cruised to victory with Thierry Pletinckx just over two minutes off the pace in the 16km Farmers Agri-Care race while Mark Mackenzie was third. Mackenzie’s third, when combined with his third position in the opening leg, is enough to move him to the top of the standings in the Quattro ROAG Series.
Sarah Gray enjoyed a two-minute win in the women’s 16km trail run with Megan Wassung recording her second runner-up spot in two races after she was edged out by Wendy Mills at Wartburg. The two runner-up finishes are just enough to edge her to the top of the Quattro ROAG Series leaderboard, but Mills, who was fourth on Sunday, is now just eight points behind on the log.
Jacqui Cochran, the marketing manager from Husqvarna, was full of praise for the Mid Illovo event which she has seen grow substantially in the time her company has been involved with the popular race.
“Husqvarna is proud and delighted to partner with the Mid Illovo community for the past eight years. It has been a joy and delight to watch the race grow, but still retain its community following and hands-on approach by the local residents of the farming community.
“This event is not just a commercial success, but has managed to keep its personality that it always has had.”
By – Tim Whitfield