Sixth year running and second year as the UCI Elite Gravity team, the Unior Tools Team is stronger then ever and again races in both disciplines of the UCI World Cup. Tanja Žakelj is a story of her own with two European cross-country titles and one World Cup title under her belt in the last two seasons. She will start the season in Nové Mesto as one of the favourites for the biggest races of the year. But right now it’s all about gravity and the upcoming race weekend in Pyrenees.
Team will have six riders on the start lists, two of them are new on the team. Scot Ruaridh Cunningham and Slovenian Žiga Pandur are riders with best results in the last season, both with top-30 results in the World Cup & World Champs and victories in the European Cup and other premium events in their careers. Jure Žabjek and Nal Otoničar are also in back on the team and will attack high results in their categories. Mio Suemasa is now Unior bike tools ambassador and will focus on Japanese and Asian races.
New on the team is Reece Wilson, amazing talent from Gordon, Scotland. 18-year old will tackle the elite category for the first time, after becoming a Junior Champion of the British Downhill Series and spending one season as Unior supported rider.
Joining the team is also one of the fastest ladies of the sport – Zarja Černilogar won iXS European Cup in 2013 & 2014 and got some very nice World Cup results. Now her focus is solely on the World Cup and World Championships, and her ambitions are high. “I will attack even harder than before. I don’t want to think about results, I want to be satisfied with my race runs and do my best. Good results will come along with that, but for sure I want to improve on my best result ever, 8th place from Meribel,” said Zarja about her race plans.
Elite team and elite partners
Slovenian based Unior Tools Team is in the group of UCI elite gravity teams and a proud partner of premium companies in the bicycle industry. Team riders rely on Trek Session and Superfly (and Slash for enduro) frames, SRAM drivetrain and brakes, RockShox suspension and Schwalbe tires. New partner of the team is Hope with their program of hubs and rims. Stepping up on the sponsors ladder is One Industries, supplier of full race kit and helmets. Main sponsor of the team is Unior with their program of specialized bicycle tools, in fact it would be more proper to say that this is Unior’s factory team.
Other team sponsors are: Mapei, CamelBak, Motorex, Sixsixone, Sapim, crankbrothers, Selle Italia, adidas eyewear, Lizard Skins, Gamut USA, MuleBar, Teva, Atlas, Zéfal and Slovenian insurance company Zavarovalnica Triglav; team's partners are also Slovenian cycling club Rajd and city of Ljubljana.
To make sure that all of the riders have a great support and that the bikes are running smoothly, the team also expands on the staff side. Team now has four mechanics: Rok Jurca, Jure Božič, Urban Ferenčak and Nejc Rutar; Urban and Nejc both come from racing and will help riders also with experiences and riding knowledge. Miha Jakopič is head coach for DH team, Samo Rauter is Tanja’s coach, Klemen Humar will do most of the photography, Tine Mahkovec is team director, while Grega Stopar took over the team manger role next to PR work.
Ambitions of the team are very high for the 2015 season, with eyes set on World Cup and World Championships, and also selected iXS European Cup events and of course European Championships. With days till the first big race the thoughts of everybody in the team are the same: “Let’s get this show on the road!”
Riders on the pictures are Zarja Černilogar & Žiga Pandur, both with their new bikes and gear; all photos by Anže Furlan/PSGT Productions
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