We couldn’t wish for a better start of the season with the new team – Dakotah Norton was fifth on the UCI World Cup podium for the first time in his racing career! Unior/Devinci racing program is on fire – and the season has just begun!
Whole week in Croatia was all about the sun, the sea & the great hospitality, but today we only have one thing on our minds – first downhill World Cup podium for the team and Dakotah Norton. American joined new Unior/Devinci team in the winter, showed his speed early in the season on Pro GRT Windrock, and absolutely blew our minds today!
“Honestly, there are no words for how I feel right now. I’ve worked so hard and had these dreams that nobody believed in from day one in this. Deep down I knew I can do it, this is for me and everybody that had given everything for me to be at these races – my family, James and all people that saw when nobody else did,” said Dakotah, full of emotions just after the race and the final confirmation of the result. “I proved to myself and everybody else that I’m capable of doing this. Team picked me up as a rider that everybody else was afraid to pick-up. I was new, I was the new guy. I’m so happy and so thankful and so grateful to everybody that helped me get here.”
Dak was 15th after Saturday’s qualifications. Decent result on this brutal course, but he knew he has more to show.
“I woke up this morning and said to myself I can do this, I believed in myself,” explained Dakotah. Track is full of traps and unpredictable section, everybody had to give everything – and staying on the bike at the same time. Dak explains: “I didn’t hear anybody from the crowds. I just shut my head off. I knew I had the speed, I went for it and I almost throw it away in the first corner. I kept pushing and charging and rode as loose as I could. I just hold on… and on the bottom I just pedaled as hard as I could.”
Dakotah is of course the star of the day, but also Jure Žabjek did very good. He came to Lošinj with wrist injury and we all knew he’ll have to take it easy. He was protected, so he was saving himself for the last run and then gave everything he had. He was 31st on the end.
Jure Žabjek: “My injury is still not 100% healed, that is why this was a very hard race for me. I didn’t had high expectation from this weekend, but I wanted to race on Lošinj. I couldn’t miss this crazy atmosphere. I’m happy with my result, I know I’ll do much better without injury. I’m also stoked for Dakotah, what an amazing result.”
Rudy Cabirou had to watch the race from behind the fence, he injured his wrist on Friday and will need some time to recover.
Congratulations and thanks to all team staff, team partners and friends that made this possible! And also congratulations to team of Mercedez-Benz UCI MTB World Cup Lošinj, the race was a blast!
Photos by Klemen Humar, Keith Valentine and Charles Robertson