Sometimes pro cyclists have outstanding seasons and sometimes their seasons are disappointing. Marco Fontana (Cannondale Factory Racing) has experienced both kinds. In 2012, he won the Olympic bronze medal in mountain biking. Fast forward two years and he's overtrained and trying to salvage what is left - just a few more big races in 2014.
"So far, I'm not happy with my season. I had a great beginning, but I probably worked too hard over the winter," said Fontana. "This was the year I wanted to step up."
"The Olympic season was amazing and the one after was a bit up and down - 2013 was the season when I got a podium in a cyclo-cross World Cup and a mountain bike World Cup, which is something maybe only a few guys back in the day achieved. In the end, 2013 was a good season with third at the Europeans and seventh overall. It was a good season - not my best, but good."
The results motivated Fontana to improve for the 2014 season. "I wasn't happy - I always want more. Then I put so much effort into this winter. I even skipped cyclo-cross Worlds because I was in training camp."
Fontana went into the 2014 season with a lot of mileage and training in his legs, but it proved to be too much, and he's struggled to find his old form, let alone the even better form that he had been seeking.
After racing in the Italian cross country nationals, Fontana realized he needed more recovery. He decided to head to North America for the Mont-Sainte-Anne and Windham World Cups, but took each race week a bit easier, with the goal of recovering as much as he could while still competing in both races.
Fontana finished 21st in Mont-Sainte-Anne and 15th in Windham. He sits 15th overall in the World Cup standings.
"It's a pity when you put so much in and you don't get it back," said Fontana. "It's frustrating, but it's part of the game. When things go well, everything is good and easy, but when they don't go that way, it's tough. But I'm lucky to have a good team and good support."
So far this year, Fontana's best results have been eighth in the World Cup and seventh at the Europeans.
"They are good results but far from what I want to achieve," he said.
His last big chance to turn his season around is at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Hafjell, Norway.
"Going into Worlds, the only thing that counts are the medals. I'm far from a medal at the moment, but you have to look toward it. First, I want to get back in good shape and do a good performance. This season, I've been struggling to do my best and do a good performance."
After Worlds, Fontana anticipates a break so he can start fresher for 2015. "I need a big unplug, then will focus on the start of next season. I would say I've done too much training and not enough recovery, and I think I'll do even less 'cross this winter."