The Cross-Country race in Andorra was one of the most exciting we’ve seen in the last few years, and we’re happy to report that Tanja Žakelj had her best performance so far this season. She was 19th on the Sunday XCO race, before that she took 25th on Friday’s short-track race.
The racing venue in Andorra (winter centre & bike park Vallnord) is situated at an altitude of two thousand metres, which has a huge impact on racing; steep climbs on this race can feel like a wall. It was obvious that Tanja wasn’t functioning at her best at this high altitude, which gives even more value to this result from the 3rd round of the World Cup. She had a fantastic start and was 13th after the first lap. After that, she was on her own pace and was changing positions a lot. She battled all the way to the finish line, taking 19th place.
“It’s been a while since we had the last world cup race, but I had a couple of really good races in recent weeks, and I couldn’t wait to prove myself at this level as well. At the same time, I’m not a fan of the Andorra race … it’s beautiful out here, but I find it difficult to cope with the high altitude. I’m really happy with the result. I said to myself that I needed to look into the future, and after two races in 26th place, I wanted to get into the top-20. This is a step forward, and I did it. This means that I have to be satisfied and look forward to the next races. The next one is in a week’s time in France and I believe I can progress further”, said Tanja Žakelj after the race.
Tanja didn’t had a good position on the start; she was 25th on the short track and that meant she will go from the fourth row. But today that didn’t play the role as she had a fantastic first lap. “Start of the race is the brightest part of the day, I’m really happy that I did so good in the first lap. This gave me the confidence that I can do good in the first lap and that the good start is possible no matter where in the field you start. Of course it’s important that you’re closer to the front and I’ll continue to battle in the short track, but if you do it properly you can also have a good start from the fourth row,” was Tanja’s thoughts of the race start.
Tanja didn’t have a good position at the start; she was 25th on the short track, and that meant she would start from the fourth row. Today that didn’t have an impact, as she had a fantastic first lap. “The start of the race is the brightest part of the day, I’m really happy I did so well in the first lap. It gave me confidence that I can do well in the first lap and have a good start no matter where in the field I start. Of course, it’s important to be as close to the front as possible, and I’ll continue to battle in the short track, but if you do it properly you can also have a good start from the fourth row”, was Tanja’s take on the start of the race.
But confidence is just part of the game, you need to sneak your way through the large field, and she did it perfectly today. Tanja explains: “I was paying close attention to what was happening at the start. I was in a good position at the side of the group, with the single goal not to get stuck and to look for empty space. I was really good at it today. I was in the top-15 after the first lap, after that I was racing at my own pace and didn’t bother with who was passing me and who I was chasing. It was a good race.”
A better result also means that Tanja Žakelj moved up a little in the World Cup standings; she is now 26th. The winner of the race in Andorra was Anne Terpstra from the Netherlands.
Tanja’s results on the Mercedes-Benz UCI MTB World Cup race in Andorra:
– XCO: 19th place
– Best laps on the XCO race: 4/6 – 11th, 1/6 – 13th
– XCC: 25th place
– Overall standings: 26th
Photos by Grega Stopar