Žiga Pandur was with us from day one – he was 18 years old when he joined Unior Tools Team back in 2010 (after already racing for our national team Rajd). That was an easy decision from our side, backed by his 10th place on European Champs in Kranjska Gora, 21st place from World Champ in Canberra, both in junior category, and 36th place from Maribor World Cup qualifications, all in 2009. Maribor result is especially amazing, as he was third fastest junior on that day, slower only to Bernard Kerr and Harry Heath.
From the beginning we shared the high ambitions – with World Cup as a proving ground and podiums on the national races just being cherries on top of the cake. We can say 2010 was a rough start for both Žiga and the team, but in 2011 he already had 8th and two top-15 results from iXS European Cup and was again very close to finals on the world series.
It was 2012 when things really took off, with consistent results around 60th place in the World Cup. He also took his first elite victory that year – UCI C1 race Shambhala Open in Bulgaria. In the following season he moved close to top-30 and won the iXS EDC race in Chatel. He also took his best ever World Cup results in 2013 – 25th from Hafjell and 27th from Leogang. He was 30th twice on the elite men downhill race on the World Champs – in Pietermaritzburg and Hafjell. However, Žiga’s best worlds race was in Andorra in 2015 when he took 24th – Slovenian record to this day! He continued the amazing streak in the following seasons and was one of the most consistent riders of the time.
Last two season were more turbulent, defined by big injury on 2016 Fort William race that left him with pneumothorax and broken ribs and basically put him out of the season.
His racing career includes podium finishes on iXS EDC races, top-10 results from European Championships and dozens of podiums for Slovenian national champs and national series races. He was second on his last race (how appropriate that that happened in Maribor), after his teammate Jure.
We always appreciated his professional attitude, determination and commitment, as well as his vast technical knowledge that helped all our riders and sometimes left best technicians in the World Cup circuit speechless. Žiga Pandur also influenced a new generation of Slovenian downhill racers, including Jure Žabjek who is now already doing the same to his followers. Žiga is also a great MTB skills coach and his riding workshops are a favorite among Ljubljana’s mountain bikers.
Žiga Pandur: “Time flies really fast! I vividly remember my first racing steps as they would happen just a few days ago, but actually that happened quite a few years ago, probably a decade ago. After 8 years of racing mountain bikes at the highest level I've decided to stop actively racing downhill. I am still passionate and motivated about mountain biking as when I started riding bikes, but over the time priorities had changed and I feel that now it's perfect time to finish this chapter in life and start a new one. My racing career had lots of ups and downs, wins and bad races, but overall I had lots of great and unforgettable moments, I've met a lot of awesome people, travelled to a lot of beautiful places, learned a lot of new things and had ‘hell of a good time’ doing it.
I would first like to thank my parents for all their unconditional support, then to Tine, Grega and Rok for being behind me all the way from the beginning of my racing. I've been part of Unior Tools Team from start of my career and also from beginning of the team. It was a pleasure and great honor being part of it and to see how the team has grown over the years. Then also to all sponsors who believed in me and supported me through my racing career and also to all fans, without you guys, racing bikes wouldn't be that much fun!
This is not a goodbye note, I'll see you somewhere on the bike and eventually also on the races, but next time on the spectators side of the tape.”
Žiga couldn’t finish off with better words, we all hope this is not goodbye and we’ll do many great tights together in the future!
Best of luck Žiga, and thank you for everything!
Photos by Klemen Humar, Anže Furlan, Keith Valentine, Grega Stopar & team archive