Published: 29th January 2013
The UCI MTB team that finished the 2012 season among top 15 gravity teams is joined by 2007 Junior DH World Champion Ruaridh Cunningham, multiple XCO World Champion & Olympian Tanja Žakelj and Slovenian Junior DH Champ Jure Žabjek.
New riders in the factory Unior Tools team will race next to Jess Stone, Žiga Pandur and Nejc Rutar, all well recognized names on the international scene. Team will compete in full DHI & XCO UCI MTB World Cup, selected international events and also enduro races.
Unior Tools Team is ready for the next big step and the new discipline. The team that build its reputation on the downhill scene is heading towards its fourth season with rooster of six riders from United Kingdom and Slovenia, but the big news is entry into the XC circuit. This is happening with singing of Tanja Žakelj, multiple World Champion (2006 – junior, 2008 – U23) and top 10 finisher from London Olympic games.
Team’s commitment to DH racing is meanwhile only getting stronger with the signing of 2007 Junior DH World Champion Ruaridh Cunningham who joins Jess Stone and Žiga Pandur in the elite squad. Team also welcomes new Junior DH event on the World Cup weekend and signs talented Jure Žabjek to race in this category. Nejc Rutar, one of the best Slovenian downhillers of all times will focus on enduro racing. Team of six will be supported by mechanics Rok Jurca and Ben Evans, team manager Tine Mahkovec and PR manager Grega Stopar.
For Slovenian based team this is a logical step forward and in perfect harmony with title sponsor’s ambitions on the bicycle market. Unior Tools was established in 1919 and is one of the biggest European hand tools manufacturers. It entered bicycle market a decade ago and is now already one of the leaders with wide range of tools, own production and high quality. Other sponsors and suppliers are Trek, SRAM, Schwalbe, Mapei, Motorex, Bontrager, Sixsixone, Crankbrothers, adidas Eyewear, Royal, Gamut, Osprey, Lizard Skins, Sapim, MuleBar, Roost, Toper, Fun Bike Park Kranjska Gora, GoBandit and Teva. List of sponsors reveals how the official team bikes will look like. Downhill rig is build around Trek Session 9.9 frame, RockShox suspension, SRAM drivetrain, Avid brakes, Bontrager wheels, Schwalbe tires and other great products. All riders will also have Trek Slash for enduro events, while Tanja’s weapon of choice is brand new Trek Superfly SL 29er with SRAM XX components.
All riders on the team are super excited and fully motivated before the RockyRoads UCI MTB World Cup finally starts in Albstadt (XCO) and Fort William (DHI). Their goals are very high and include thoughts of the podium… Meanwhile the team sticks by the most important rule: “Do your best and have fun!”
Ruaridh Cunningham, Scotland: “Having ridden a Trek last year as a privateer, the step up to the Unior Tools Team is an amazing opportunity for me. I’m looking forward to working with the team and with their support I feel I can achieve the goals I’ve set for myself this season. They include top 20 placing overall in the World Cup and top 5 placing in BSD.”
Tanja Žakelj, Slovenia: “Reliable and relaxed people in the team, great sponsors and blue color – for me this is a perfect combination that will help me reach my goals. I want to repeat my best results in the World Cup and World Championships, or even get higher. Generally this means constantly being among top 15 riders on the planet.”
Jess Stone, UK: “Having been to New Zealand for a while and being able to concentrate on just my riding full time is very important before the start of the new season. I feel focused and ready for a season of some good racing. I’m really looking forward to having new members onboard and being able to learn from them and ride with them this year.”
Žiga Pandur, Slovenia: “My wish to get into top 30 on the World Cup and World Championships gives me unlimited amounts of motivation and with the support of the team it feels more than possible. We are always serious when we need to be, but most of the time the atmosphere is relaxed and this is just what works for me.”
Nejc Rutar, Slovenia: “2013 season will be full of new things for me. I will race enduro, new and exciting discipline for me. The team itself will also experience a lot of changes, especially with Tanja and XC on board. The whole thing inspires me and gives me motivation ahead of unknown and new territory.”
Jure Žabjek, Slovenia: “I’m really happy for this opportunity and I’ll do my best to be in top 15 on every Junior DH World Cup. Season will be long and hard, but I’m already looking forward to the last big race of 2013 – iXS European Cup in front of home crowd in Maribor.”
Tine Mahkovec, Team Manager: “Cooperation with Tanja Žakelj brings new challenges for us, but also great benefits. It is no secret that Unior is rapidly growing on the bicycle tools market and additional exposure in the cross-country scene means a lot. Nejc’s decision to focus on the enduro is also very positive and as a team we will continue to give him our best support. Ruaridh, Jess and Žiga are names with large fan base and each of them will bring their share of good results and promotion for the team and our sponsors. Jure is also fast and can do a lot in the junior category. All in all we have amazing team of individuals, all capable of constant and high results, plus a team of hard working mechanics and best possible gear. We just can’t wait to get on the road!”
Visit www.uniortoolsteam.com for more information