MSA World Champs: 8th place for Tanja!

Fantastic day for Tanja Žakelj! She took 8th on the mountain bike world championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne! This is great result for her and the team, and also an important step on the road to Tokyo – she basically won a spot for Slovenia, but more about this later.

Mont-Sainte-Anne is home of mountain bike racing for the last three decades, this is the third time they world champs came to town. It’s one of the most legendary venues and one that Tanja Žakelj likes very much – the track is technical and dynamic, plus she took a lot of great results here in the past. Today she crowned her season with the 8th place on the biggest race of the year.

“I’m really happy that I had my best race of the season so far on the World Champs! 8th place from Val di Sole is also great – and maybe is there where I got the confidence to get back in the top-10. But everything is even harder on the worlds and this is why this result has a greater value. I really like the track in Mont-Sainte-Anne, I also have a lot of experience here and I used them to my advantage today. I was on the very controlled pace on the climbs, so I could have full control of the descents and didn’t do a lot of mistakes. This paid off and I’m super happy!”Tanja Žakelj explained just minutes after the race.

Tanja is part of Slovenian national team from since when she was a junior, and she also already has better world champs results to her name. But every result on the champs is precious and same is true for today’s eight place. Race analysis shows that she had a good race from start to finish; she started the race from the third row and was just behind top-10 right away. After that she was defending her position in the group and slowly advancing. She came in eight in the lap 4/6 and successfully defended all attacks.

“The start was fast, I had a decent position and I knew that anything can happen. But most of mistakes that happen in the mass start like this luckily happened behind me and I didn’t loose too much time. I wasn’t at the front, but still in the position from where I could control the race. I gave what I had on the climbs and tried not to loose energy where it wasn’t needed and only progressed till the end.”Tanja Žakelj

Tanja did her job in Canada with honors and can celebrate her success.

She will now change from her green & blue jersey of the national team back to the team kit and travel to West Virginia for the last big race of the season.

“I’m so happy that I got this fantastic result on the world championships. World Cup finals are now ahead of us and I hope I’ll to there as good.”

But there is another great news! Today’s result has practically secured a spot for Slovenia on the Olympic games in Tokio. Slovenian team is currently in the position on the rankings that leads to the games, but if that would be about to change Tanja assured one spot with MSA result. The rule goes: “For each gender, the two (2) highest ranked NOCs in the Elite Cross-country Olympic race and the two (2) highest ranked NOCs in the Under 23 Cross-country Olympic race – which have not yet qualified any quota places – will qualify a maximum of one (1) quota place per NOC.” Ahead of Tanja were only strong teams and Australian rider, which means Slovenia is “IN” one way or another.

Photos by Grega Stopar