This time Beukes will be riding with Philip Buys, with whom he’s also won the jersey three times before.
While identifying Beukes and Buys as again being favourites for the jersey, Jessop welcomed the fact that he and DSV’s Arno du Toit would not have a target on their backs.
“I feel like we are the slight underdogs which I actually enjoy more,” Jessop told In the Bunch today.
“I’m hoping we can turn some heads which I think we can if all goes well.
“But I’m not focusing so much on the outcome, more on what we can do now.”
Jessop was aware of how “instrumental” Beukes was in their winning the title last season but said that, without playing that down, he felt it was still possible to repeat that feat with Du Toit.
“I did win the African jersey last year so if I did it then I can do it again,” he said.
“I get along very well with Arno and I enjoy riding with him. His riding style is very similar to mine, which is good. We will be well prepared.
“I think Arno is exceptionally tough. Nothing ever seems to bother him and I’ve never found any weaknesses in him.”
Learning from last year, the Umhlanga local said that recovery after each stage of the gruelling eight-day race would be of paramount importance.
“I was quite focused on recovering in the time period from when the stage ended till the evening. I’ll have to carry on with that.”
He added that the 21km prologue could prove decisive. “Last year I was way too excited and I put unnecessary pressure on myself in the prologue.
“I’m learning from that and I’m hoping to be a lot more relaxed so I can deliver a better performance.”
He also noted that he suffered a crash in the bunch during the first stage and that could be a danger on the first two days when groups of riders were still together.
“You have to be careful there and make sure you’re safe.”
Jessop emphasised that he and Du Toit should not focus on the other competition during the race, but rather on themselves.
“You have to focus on your own strategies and plans. For me it’s about consistency.
“You have to try to limit your losses on your bad days and on your good days you just have to take advantage of [your opportunities].
“It’s important not to fluctuate too much, because that’s when time gaps start forming.”