PYGA Euro Steel’s Jessop, who won the African’s jersey at the Cape Epic a couple of months ago, took part in the race the last four years in a row, but he finished third, fourth and second twice respectively.
He would like to take the top step this time round. “I have just never been able to win it. My goal is to finally complete the podium and finish first this year.
“But the Karkloof is normally a big race with many competitiors. I will be hoping for a good day and I am looking forward to it.”
The race has some sentimental value to Jessop, who hails from KwaZulu-Natal.
“The Karkloof was the first ever race I took part in – in the 10km version. I have done the race six times in total, so it is quite a special race to me.
“I love the trails – probably one of the best trails in South Africa – and the 60km route is definitely something spectacular.”
The pair, however, finished third at the three-day race after their preparations were divided.
He feels he is in a better space for Sunday’s race, Jessop said. “I was a bit tired going into sani2c, but I feel like my form is definitely still there since Epic.
“I have had a much better week now, so hopefully I can build on to that form. I am feeling good and motivated.”
He has a thorough knowledge of the route. “I have ridden on the route in previous races and when riding for fun with family or friends,” he said.
“It is basically flat, then three up hills, which go down again, and then flat again to the finish. The climbs are long, which I think would suit me.
“I plan to go harder as the climbs go further up. The climbs are always the make or break in Karkloof.”
Jessop predicts Stuart Marais, who came second at the African Continental MTB XCO race a month ago and was the highest SA finisher at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Stellenbosch in March, to be the highest threat.