Days of dust were finally over on Saturday, with heavy rain spicing up the race for the last men on the start of the race in Vallnord. Our finalists – Jure Žabjek and Ruaridh Cunningham – were on the track before the dark clouds started leaking, so they were only battling with the clock and the dust. They both fell, but both showed that they are fast!
Ruaridh was one of the first finalists on the track. He had shitty qualies on Friday and a great desire to sit in a hot seat for a very long time. Splits were fast, third one even fast enough for top-20, but then disaster happened and he fell off the track. There is no damage, which is good, but we all wanted a better result for a farewell of the season. Final result for Ruaridh is 70th place.
Jure was 33rd in the qualies, which was final confirmation of the speed he had all weekend. On the end he finished one place lower, in 34th. But he also crashed and that after the splits 3 and 4 were in green and the best-ever result so close he could felt it.
Ruaridh finished the UCI MTB World Cup season in 26th, Jure in 51st. Žiga was also racing in Andorra, but his body is still not ready for this kind of efforts. Still we think it was a brave move to race, and finals actually weren’t that far away.
This is what our finalists had to say after the race:
Jure Žabjek: “I really like the course in Vallnord and I was fast on it from the first training to the qualifications and today’s finals. Track changed a lot in these days, it was really dry and dusty. I started my final run with some reserve, I knew how long it is to the finish and I have to save my energy for the bottom part. I was doing really good in the second half of the course, I also had an amazing split time - 22nd on fourth split. About 20 seconds till the finish things went wrong and I went off the track on the narrow part of the track and ended up in the net. I’m still happy with 34rd, but I also know that I could do much better without a crash.
In the beginning of the season I didn’t thought I will be among the fastest 40 riders in the world, now I see that I can be even much higher. I’ll take this with me on the next important race - World Championships in Val di Sole. I was 32nd on the worlds last year, I plan to do it better this time around.”
Ruaridh Cunningham: “Disappointing end to otherwise solid season. I knew I had to step-up after yesterday and I had a plan in my head of what I’m going to do. It was all going to plan, but when I got to the steep section I just gassed out. I felt like I was not in control anymore. I tried to keep pushing, but ended up having a pretty big crash and going off the track. It took me a while to get back up on the track and with that I lost a lot of time. I’m disappointed, but I’m OK and feel like I had good speed all season. It’s frustrated that it had to end like that, but I’m happy with so many things and I look forward to the next year.
Now I’ll go home, do some big jumps and get ready for Red Bull Hardline. It’ll be good to have a week off, just chill and Hardline will be a good fun, so I look forward to it.”
Rachel Atherton and Danny Hart made British fans happy today, as they didn’t only win the race, but wrote history of downhill sport – Danny with 3rd in a row, and Rachel winning all races of the season.
Jure is of course racing for Slovenian national team next week in Val di Sole and is looking on his personal best from the biggest race of the season. Ruaridh has a different agenda, he’ll travel to Red Bull Hardline as a defending champion.
Results on the UCI website
Official website of the event
Reply of the race on Red Bull TV
UTT on Facebook
Photos by Keith Valentine & Grega Stopar
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