Jessop confident but women’s race is tight for Quattro ROAG Series title

On 3 August 2018 by admin

By: Tim Whitfield

AS Julian Jessop finally seems to be imposing his grip on the men’s Quattro ROAG Series MTB log, the tight and tense battle for the women’s honours continues to get more intriguing with each event.

After Sunday’s Illovo Eston MTB Marathon there are just two events remaining in the lucrative Quattro ROAG MTB and Trail Running Series and while the men’s MTB is starting to look settled, the women’s battle between Christie-Leigh Hearder and Andrea de Boer could not be tighter.

The final two events in the series are the the aQuelle Harburg Tour de Krantz on August 18; and the Safire Baynesfield MTB Classic on September 16.

Jessop’s third place at the recent Sappi Scottburgh MTB race – just a day after he collected his third South African U23 cross country title in Bloemfontein – saw the PYGA Eurosteel rider move into a solid 86-point lead over second-placed Andrew Johnson.

Johnson’s Ballito Bicycling Company teammate, Tyronne White, is third, 22 points further back but crucially with a result in hand which makes him probably Jessop’s biggest danger in the race to the R25 000 first prize.

Jessop and White are both taking part at Eston while Johnson has not pre-entered although he could still submit a late entry on the day.

While Jessop is surely satisfied with his 86-point lead and knows that just one more good result should see him almost guaranteed of winning the title, there is hope for his rivals.

The talented rising star faces a busy few weeks and his focus is to peak for the highlight of his season, the World Cross Country Championships in Switzerland on September 5-9. That means hard training sessions could rob him of peak racing condition at Eston and Harburg, and the travel to and from Switzerland could mean he is not at his best a week after the World Championships at Baynesfield.

But for White and Johnson to capitalise they will pretty much need race wins and the strong field at Eston, with previous Quattro ROAG Series winners Andrew Hill and Stuart Marais topping the ROAG rankings on the entry lists, means the Ballito pair face an uphill battle to unseat Jessop.

The women’s struggle for the biggest series prize in South African mountain biking is virtually guaranteed to go all the way to the final event in September as Hearder enjoys a desperately close four-point advantage over De Boer.

Hearder and De Boer have dominated the series events this year and have not finished more than one position apart in any series event they have both raced this year. Both have completed five events and so need just one more race to qualify so as to be able to start discarding weak results and replacing them in the final two events.

Not surprisingly they are the two top ranked women riders on the pre-entries at Eston and whoever has the best finish this weekend will go into the final two events on top of the log.

In the trail running log Nomore Mandivengerei has taken control of the men’s series with four wins from the past four events and two more reasonably good finishes should give him the 2018 Quattro ROAG Series title.

The women’s trail running log has Wendy Mills on top from six finishes, but Sarah Gray is just 13 points behind from four events so it is hard to see Gray not claiming the title if she finishes the required six events.

Latest Quattro ROAG Series points:
MTB
Men
1 Julian Jessop 434pts (5 events)
2 Andrew Johnson 348 (5)
3 Tyronne White 282 (4)
4 Cayde Muldoon 260 (6)
5 Brennan Anderson 227 (4)
6 Nathan Treble 216 (5)
7 Warren Price 214 (3)
8 Frederick Rossouw 168 (5)
9 Jedson Tooms 166 (5)
10 Mazwi Smimango 155 (4)

Women
1 Christie-Leigh Hearder 410 (5)
2 Andrea de Boer 406 (5)
3 Belinda Mason 259 (6)
4 Nadine Nunes 243 (4)
5 Rentia Denissen 231 (5)
6 Landy Puddu 204 (4)
7 Tarryn Morgan 181 (4)
8 Isabel Moolman 159 (3)
9 Wendy Corkin 141 (4)
10 Debrah Thomas 130 (3)

Trail
Men
1 Nomore Mandivengerei 400 (4)
2 Mark Mackenzie 368 (6)
3 Thierry Pletinckx 247 (4)
4 Mdu Zondi 212 (3)
5 Rupert Sebire 175 (5)
6 Grieg Walker 88 (3)

Women
1 Wendy Mills 385 (6)
2 Sarah Gray 372 (4)
3 Megan Wassung 267 (4)
4 Apiwe Gaga 222 (3)
5 Alison Wasserfall 122 (3)
6 Karen Maiden 116 (3)
7 Zanele Jele 95 (3)