With this race we headed to the hometown of PYGA (Howick) and we knew that the local support for our team would be great!
With some of the best trails in SA ahead Julian, Pieter and Kombo set off in the misty conditions. Julian and Pieter impressed me so much, at ages 19 and 20 their fighting spirits are very strong and I look forward to see them progress over the years to come!!! Kombo also started very strong and rode at the front but he had to pull out with back pain, later diagnosed as a kidney infection, heal up soon bud :)
Julian Jessop - 1st overall
The Karkloof Classic has always been a special race to me as it was the place of my first ever 10km mtb race. For the last four years I have been trying to win the Karkloof and have resulted in the following positions; 3rd, 4th, 2nd, 2nd. This year I was hoping to complete my collection of podium spots.
When Ruan sent me a message saying he would also be at the Karkloof I was really excited. I hadn’t seen Ruan in a long time due to his illness and also having the team at a race always makes the event so much more fun.
I had a good week of training including a course recon on Wednesday and I was ready to race.
The start was fast but we soon settled into a good pace. Up the first climb Stuart Marias put down the hammer and only Pieter and myself could follow. Going down the first piece of single track I put my technical abilities to work and managed to pull a 10s gap on the others. This wasn’t enough to carry on up the 2nd big climb of the day so I refuelled whilst Stuart and Pieter caught up. Going up Lebanon, Stuart set a fast pace again. Pieter dropped off and soon after so did I. Pieter then caught up to me on the flat at the top of the climb and we worked together on the flats and downhill to catch Stuart again. Going up the 3rd and last climb of the day I could see Stuart was starting to tire and I was feeling better and better. At the top of the climb I attacked and managed to crest the top first with a small gap.
Unfortunately going down the single track I had a big over the bars and Stuart caught and over took me. In my rush to catch back up to Stuart I was taking too many risks and ended up sliding out another three times. I calmed down and slowly I pulled back Stuart to re-join him with about 5km to go. I knew it was going to be a sprint so I started to mentally prepare for it. When we rounded the last corner Stuart went from early on. I knew it was too early so I sat and waited until later on when I came round him and managed to win the sprint finish.
It is one of my most special victories and I am really happy that Ruan and the team from PYGA were there to celebrate it with me!
Thanks to Ruan for a great weekend once again!
Pieter Du Toit - 3rd overall
My Karkloof classic.
It was such a awesome race! The vibe was great with all the guys from pyga who was supporting us. They had their whole trailer with all the pyga bikes on show.
But let me tell you my race. The race started with a 30min delay due to an accident that ment the riders could not get there in time. But eventually everybody was there and the race could start.
We went of and the race was based out of 3 climbs and a lot of perfect single track. On the first climb Stuart went hard, Julian and myself went with him. So from 10km we were on our own. But unfortunately they dropped me on the second climb, it was a long one. Unfortunately Julian also got dropped by Stuart further on. Luckily for me I could catch Julian and we were able to work together. Julian was super fast on the descends and I just let go and managed to stick.
So when we got to the bottom of the descend we caught Stuart! And it was a 3 man race again . So the last climb came and Julian threw a big attack leaving me behind... But there was a long flat section just before the finish when I pulled some time on them. But I din’t have enough power . At least I was close enough to see the spectacular sprint of Julian !
After all I am super happy with my 3rd place just 17seconds behind Julian and Stuart.
But this is for sure the most spectacular and fun 60km race I have ever done. It is one for the book ! 👌🏻