“You can’t keep a good man down.”
This old saying certainly applies to Jacques Rossouw (Ghost factory racing).
The UCI-sanctioned MTN Sabie ultra-race (23 February) might well turn out to be a classic example of the top dogs fighting for victory, but the runt riding away with the spoils.
The MTN Sabie will be the first race of Rossouw’s second comeback.
Rossouw demonstrated how important it is for him to give a good account of himself at Sabie by flying out to Namibia to do some high altitude training with his coach, Mannie Heymans, starting this week.
Training with Heymans may prove to be the proverbial ace up Rossouw’s sleeve because Heymans won the Sabie race no less than seven times.
Heymans will, therefore, be able to give Rossouw a few pointers on how to ride a sound tactical race at Sabie. Rossouw was forced to retire again last year because of a lack of sponsorship. His retirement was considered to be regrettable because at that stage he was just beginning to show the form that made him a force to be reckoned with when he was racing as an u.23 rider.
In his first comeback race in 2011 he finished third in the MTN Gravel Travel. He went on to nearly beat Evans in the MTN Ride Crater Cruise, before winning the MTN Barberton ultra-race in 2012.
It was Jason Theunissen, from Ghost bikes SA together with past Cape Epic winner Mannie Heymans, who decided that Rossouw was far too big a cycling talent to be lost and who lured him back into the professional ranks.
“I firmly believe that Jacques is capable of a top-ten finish at the UCI World Marathon Championship and that is why we are sponsoring him,” Theunissen said. “We are not going to pressure Jacques to get results. If he should win or get a top-ten finish we will be happy for him, and if he does not, it will also be OK.
“At the moment it is just important for Jacques to believe in his abilities as a mountain biker again.”
Rossouw, who earned himself the nickname of ‘Big Blade’ because of the ease with which he can go up the steepest climb in the highest gears, said he will need to do at least six weeks of hard training before he will be competitive.
“My goal is to be fighting fit for the MTN Sabie race.”