WC Lourdes: Epic start of the new World Cup season
Whole weekend in Lourdes was under the influence of the constantly changing weather, with lots of cold rain. Result was a wet and muddy course that was drying pretty fast today for the finals. All of our riders took advantage of the better conditions on the course and kept or improved on their positions from the qualifications.
Zarja Černilogar went on the course as 11th from the qualies, and there is where she finished the race today. Žiga Pandur advanced massively and took 40th place with a solid and fast run.Ruaridh Cunningham did one step further – he finished the race in 19th position. This is second best result for Unior Tools Team in Downhill World Cup (best is still 18th place of Harry Heath in La Bresse 2011).
Ruaridh is now 20th overall, which means he’ll travel to Cairns with a status of a protected rider.
Jure Žabjek unfortunately didn’t qualify for the finals. Reece Wilson also skipped this race (and will do the same with Cairns) as he is still in the process of recovery after the knee surgery he had in the winter. Race winners in Lourdes are Rachel Atherton and Aaron Gwin.
Ruaridh Cunningham, 19th place: “Happy with the result today. I feel like I had been battling a little bit whole week. When it started to dry out I knew I can push and knew the lines that would be doable in the dry, but not necessarily in the wet. I started off pretty past, just kept hitting line after line. There were few sections where I feel I backed-off too much, but there were also couple of sections where I pushed too hard. I felt in control and I’m happy to get a solid start and move on from here.
I knew I had a good run, I was surprised with the gap when I crossed the line, but then as a track was drying people get faster and faster. I knew the guys on the end will have the best track possible. I turned it around today and didn’t let last two days to get on my nerves. I stayed confident, knew what I can do and I have a solid result for the start of the year.”
Žiga Pandur, 40th place: “This is what I needed, a good result for the start of the season! Of course I’m happy with the whole weekend. I know that I’m fast, and I know on what I need to work on and improve. I mostly have to build on getting the speed at the right time.
Everything was very slippery on the morning training, I actually started a day with a nasty crash and that took some of my confidence. Second training run also wasn’t really good. On the start I said to myself that I had to attack and risk a little bit. I showed an aggressive run, but still with control. Course was very dry by the time of the finals, and I could go all the way on some sections, but I had to be on the save side in some others.”
Zarja Černilogar, 11th place: “I’m happy with my result, not with the gap behind the winner. I was just two tenths of a second behind top-ten and I know for a few situations where I lost that time. I rode with less control than yesterday, that is why I did several small mistakes, but on a course like this there is no other way. Overall I’m happy with the whole weekend, great start of the season.
Course was very hard, weather was a whole new challenge. Bike was perfect for all of the challenges, and it worked with me all the way to the end.”