MTB World Champs
Fantastic Team Success in Downhill

RACE REPORT : MTB World Champs

Proud, happy, excited–just a few words that describe everything that was happening in Mont-Saint-Anne on Sunday, the last day of the 2019 UCI MTB World Championships. Our DH riders were all fantastic and set a lot of their new personal bests and brilliantly represented their countries!!

The week was great; it was fantastic to have the full support of the Devinci team and have development riders under the same roof in the pits. At the same time, it was a very hard race with changing conditions on the track and all of the known brutality that comes with riding in MSA.

Friday qualifications were a no-brainer. 81 riders on the start list were contending for 80 places in the finals. Needless to say, they were all in, but as the times didn’t influence the starting order, nobody really pushed it to the max.

The real challenge came on Sunday, which is when the big crowd came to the hill and when every rider went all-out! Organizers have estimated that we had 50 thousand spectators over the course of the weekend, which is absolutely amazing!

Keegan Wright

The first UDFR rider on the start (they start according to UCI standings) was Keegan Wright in the New Zealand black jersey. Keeg still isn’t 100%, fighting a pneumonia, but he gave it all and had great fun on his bike as always. He ended up 48th.

Kirk McDowall

Kirk was next, racing for a huge Canadian team in front of his home crowd. He was fast all week long and we expected for him to do well. He took the lead when he crossed the finish line and stayed in the hot seat for a very long time; in the end he took 15th place!

“It’s almost like we had a new track today; it has been a little bit different every day and on Sunday we got the grippiest day of the week. I had to adapt to that and just let it rip. I had some good, solid practice runs in the morning and hit a few lines that I changed from the day before. For finals, I just put everything together well and felt good. Unfortunately, I made a mistake before the speed trap section. I went really all the way to the edge of the course, but managed to save it… but I was on the breaks where I should be accelerating. After that I let it rip and had some good splits towards the bottom. I was a little bummed when I came down because I thought the time would shuffle down the order pretty quickly, but it was good enough for 15th and I’m stoked about that!”

Jure Žabjek

The Slovenian Jure Žabjek wasn’t aiming for the very top as his injury still isn’t fully recovered, but he gave his all and took 24th place.

“I didn’t think about the results, the track in Mont-Sainte-Anne is very technical and physically challenging, and I still don’t have full strength in my arm. Things went nice and smooth on the track, except for one bigger mistake at the top. After that I rode well and finished with a very decent result, my best ever on this track but also on World Champs. Now it’s time for Snowshoe and the World Cup finals. I was aiming for top-20 overall in that competition, but without two races, that will be very hard to do now. I’ll do my best and see what happens.”

Dakotah Norton

Dakotah was on the track right after Jure. He was loose, fast and wild, but under control and without major mistakes. His times were green all the way down, he was actually doing better and better and took over the lead with a significant margin. 4:11.034 had to be good enough for top-10…. in the end he landed 8th!

“So proud of the way I rode today. I’m the fastest American and in the top-10 – I don’t have a lot of those. The course was deteriorating at the end and I’m super pumped I rode consistently from top to bottom. Made some mistakes, but nothing crazy and I kept it in check and kept pushing it to the finish line. 8th at the worlds is more prestigious because everybody goes so much faster on this one-off event and I couldn’t be any happier. Everyone has been behind me, it’s been amazing. I’ve got good people in my corner and I’m excited to be going to the last race of the season on the gas!”

Here are some sweet facts we want to point out:

- Results are personal bests for Dak, Kirk & Jure in the World Champs.

- Dak was the fastest American on the race.

- Jure was the fastest Slovenian on the race.

- Kirk was the 3rd fastest Canadian.

- 4 riders in the top-30 were racing on Devinci Wilson 29. We have to thank Hugo Langevin from Devinci Development Racing for the 4th top result, he was 25th.

- 3 factory pilots were racing on custom bikes.

XCO - Tanja Žakelj

Mont-Sainte-Anne has been the home of mountain bike racing for the last three decades; this is the third time the World Champs have come 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 got a lot of great results here in the past. Today she topped off her season with an 8th place finish in the biggest race of the year.

“I’m really happy, this is my best race so far on the World Champs! 8th place from Val di Sole was also great–and maybe this is where I got the confidence to get back into the top-10. But everything is 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 today I used it as an advantage. I had a very controlled pace on the climbs, so I could have full control of the descents and didn’t make a lot of mistakes. This paid off and I’m super happy!”

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 the top-10 right away. After that, she defended her position in the group and only kept getting better until the end. She slipped into 8th position in lap 4/6 and successfully defended all attacks thereafter.

Tanja has been part of the Slovenian national team ever since she was a junior, there is some impressive results at World Champs under her name. Every result on the champs is precious and the same can be said for today’s 8th place.

Tanja, who has been part of the Slovenian national team ever since she was a junior, did amazingly well in Canada. She will now trade her green and blue national team jersey for her team kit the last race of the season.

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@DakotahNorton | @JureZabjek | @KirkMcdowall | @tanjazakelj |

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