Final XCO race of the World Cup season was a real treat for the fans of mountain biking – with lots of changes on the very top and also excellent performance by Tanja Žakelj! She finished the race among the first ten!
Women’s XCO race in La Bresse was exciting from start to finish, with real drama for the victory and overall title. Tanja was also playing a big role in the race and came to her best result of the season. But things looked even better until the very end, she was in eight when she had a puncture.
“Race was amazing, I’m really happy that I finished the last race of the World Cup in the top-10. But it was even better to race among the fastest and fight for high positions,” said Tanja after the race in La Bresse. “That puncture interrupted my rhythm and I lost some strength towards the end. But I reached my goal and this is great.”
Tanja had an amazing start and was in the first line behind Jolanda Neff, who later won the race and the overall standings. Tanja was around 10th place after first two laps, in third she even set the fifth time. Fifth lap was the one where things went wrong – she got a snake bike on the rock garden (like so many other girls), and had to stop in the technical zone. Anže & Urban were excellent and changed the wheel in fastest possible time, so she only lost one place. She lost another place towards the very end, but kept the top-10 result.
Race in France was very hard, the conditions made the whole event even harder. We had sun today, but everything was muddy after two days of heavy rain. Tanja didn’t mind that and was for sure one of the fastest on the technical sections, this is what she said after the race: “I generally like new venues, they gave me new energy and drive. At the same time that gives the race an additional degree of unpredictably. I think I find my way in the new situations. In fact I consider today’s conditions perfect for me, I really enjoyed the race.”
This was the last race of the 2018 UCI World Cup, Tanja Žakelj finished the season in 15th place overall. But it’s now over yet, we’re already looking towards the world champs in Lenzerheide. So does Tanja: “I’m going there with full confidence. I know I can have a good start and stay up in the front. I can race without worrying if I’ll have power till the very end. I race like we’re racing these day – full gas from start to finish, and then it happens what it happens. I’ll give my maximum in these last day, and go on the race with high ambitions.”
Photos by Klemen Humar & Keith Valentine
RACE GALLERY BY KLEMEN HUMAR