Jessop taps into Mandela magic to get the trophy

2017-09-05 06:01
Julian Jessop (right) and Stuart Marais fight for victory in the Mandela Day Marathon MTB Dash on Saturday.Photo: Gavin Ryan

Julian Jessop (right) and Stuart Marais fight for victory in the Mandela Day Marathon MTB Dash on Saturday.Photo: Gavin Ryan

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THE Nelson Mandela magic gave race winner Julian Jessop the little bit of extra incentive he needed to win the Mandela Day Marathon MTB Dash on Saturday.

The 20-year-old beat local Howick hero Stuart Marais in a tense sprint for the line to claim the prestigious title at the Mandela Capture Site near Howick, but it was the site of the Mandela trophy which gave Jessop the added incentive to secure the victory.

The two were locked together for the entire 42km race with neither able to get a decisive advantage until the final uphill sprint to the line where Jessop just managed to get ahead and hold his lead across the line.

"Before the start I saw the trophy," said the South African under 23 champion after receiving the magnificent trophy which is a replica of the artwork at the Mandela Capture Site. "I said to myself: 'Flip, I want that trophy'.

"The Mandela name is incredible and so this is a very special victory for me. And that trophy was extra motivation. I thought of that 500m out … that was my motivation and I kept saying to myself, 'I want that trophy, I want that trophy'."

In the women's race Bianca Haw made it eight wins in eight races when she added the trophy to her collection that has swelled dramatically in the past month. She is unbeaten since the South African cross-country champs in Pretoria when she finished second in the U23 race to Frankie du Toit .

But the next day, halfway across the country she won the mixed category of the first stage of the Imana Wild Ride with boyfriend Andrew Houston. They also collected wins for the next three stages. Haw has since then ridden four more events: The Sappi Scottburgh, Illovo Eston, aQuelle Tour de Krantz and now the Mandela Day MTB Dash and won all four events to give her a run of eight wins in a row.

While Bianca had time to savour her victory after breaking away from second-placed Tiffany Keep with ten kilometres to go, Jessop had to work hard to get to the finish with Marais.

As they approached the finish of the 42km race they had built a four-minute gap over the chasing duo of Andrew Hill and Tyronne White, but Marais almost made a decisive break near the finish.

"The biggest gap between us was about 10 metres when Stuart attacked with about five kilometres to go," said an elated Jessop after crossing the line.

"He attacked hard and had a gap of about ten metres … he went a bit animal like on me. It was a brutal attack and I almost popped, but just managed to claw my way back onto his wheel.

"It was important for me to have a good race today as I prepare for the World Championships in two weeks time. It was a cross country type track so it was great preparation for the Worlds.

"You only really know how well your training has gone through a result of some sort. I have been training hard so the main win for me today was that I was able to push myself, but the result was also important for my mindset. After this I am now positive and so it is an extra boost before I leave."

"I was one up from last year when I was third," said a disappointed Marais after the event. "I have finished third twice now – second is better than third at least, but hopefully I can get a win next year."

In the 21km event Scelo Mhlongo was a clear winner when he beat Daniel van der Watt by just over two minutes with Nkululeko Pewa third, a further three minutes back.
The women's 21km race was a big win for Chloe Bateson who was 11 minutes ahead of Kelly Simkiss, who, as the girlfriend of the 42km winner, added to the joy in the Jessop camp after the event.

MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nomusa Dube-Ncube, on behalf of the provincial government, congratulated the race winners."Congratulations to Julian Jessop and Bianca Haw on winning the Mandela Day Marathon MTB Dash. They can be proud of beating a strong field to claim the titles for 2017."
- Supplied.




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