Sunday in Val di Sole was all about cross-country racing, and we’re all about Tanja Žakelj. Tanja already won in the past on this venue, but nice memories on the past events don’t make you a contender on the race. Slovenian champion was very hard to get here and all paid off with another very solid result – 12th place on the World Cup race in Italy! That was the best she could do on this race.
We’re already used to the idea that the XCO race actually starts on Friday with the short track race, “valley of the sun” was no exception. Tanja Žakelj had a good race on Friday and started today from the second row. Maybe she didn’t take the best advantage of that position, but she was again fighting from start to finish and was close to top-ten.
“I’s very motivated, on Friday for the short track and again today for the XCO race. I was relaxed on the start line, I was absolutely sure that I’m in good form and that I can do a good race. If I compare the two races here in Italy I have to say that I really gave everything on Friday and said to myself ‘this is it’. Today it was very different, due to the different race course. I was strong in some places, not so in others, and I had to race very tactically. The whole race was very good and that was my optimum today… despite it might didn’t look like that when I crossed the finish line, not being completely exhausted,” said Tanja after she took 12th in Val di Sole.
Tanja was 22nd after the first lap, then she started to advance. “We had a crash in the start loop and I also had to stop, the group stretched out at that time,” explained Tanja. But she was quickly in my rhythm, was doing good on the technical sections and was gaining places. She has the watts in her legs, and is not very far behind top-ten; although it seems that the competition is just getting stronger. Tanja is of course not waiting for it to just happen, she’s working hard: “I see my progress, also with the help of the short track that is a great addition to my training. I definitely have to work on my starts. I was also good on the technical sections, Urban and I did a good job on it and I knew all the lines and was completely secure even if I did a mistake.”
Tanja is in a good position on the halfway of the season, a week before the next round of the World Cup. Tanja also talked about that race in the Pyrenees: “I don’t have a special plan, I’ll go home and take a good rest and stay motivated.”
Photos by Klemen Humar & Keith Valentine