Vallnord XCO: Tanja believed in her rhythm

Tanja is not afraid of the race in Andorra, but due to high altitude this is one of the most unpredictable races of the season. Tanja had a reserved start, but after second lap started to believe in her self and eventually she finished the race in 16th place. Same number is next to her name on the overall standings.

“I never know what to expect here in Andorra. But I’ve trusted good feelings I had in the previous days,” said Tanja Žakelj, 16th today in Vallnord. “If I go over myself on this high altitude I can even stop in the middle of the track, and I didn’t want to do that today.”

Tanja is among the riders that quickly feel the effects of the high altitude, that is why she decided for the start of the short track in the last minute. “That race was exhausting, this is why I started even more reserved today,” explained Tanja, who quickly got to her pace.

About 15 minutes into the race she took control of her rhythm and quickly started to gain positions. Tanja was in the race! “Everything was bad on the start, I even had a small crash after some of us came together in the tight spot. But I started to trust my pace, and I knew I can still do good if the pace will be high enough. On the end I didn’t came to where I would like – to the top ten – but I still have a solid result.”

Race track in Andorra lies 2000 meters above the sea level, and this high altitude took its toll among the riders. Riding at the race pace for hour and a half is not easy on its own, and on this kind of venue it becomes absolutely brutal.

Tanja was 27th after the first lap, but she was soon back in the race and on the end her times were again for top ten. This is the race where you just can’t go all-out, you have to be smart about it. Tanja explains: “You have to race very tactically here, mostly because of the terrain and the altitude, but you also have to know the girls around you and anticipate what they are doing. I gave more in the crucial moments and try to get some rest where that was possible. I was good at this in the last laps.”

Fantastic Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja took the victory in Andorra.

Tanja is now traveling back home, her next races before MSA World Cup are national and European championships.


Race replay on Red Bull TV

Results on UCI


Photos by Keith Valentine & Grega Stopar