Marco Aurelio Fontana dominated the Italian Cyclo-cross Championships yesterday in Scorzè to add to his Under 23 national title of 2006. The 23 year-old from Giussano (Monza) lived up to the promises on the eve of the event, benefiting from the absence of last year's champion, Enrico Franzoi.
The duel between Fontana and Franzoi, who is out this year due to an ankle injury, ended in a heated finale during the 2007 championships in Lucca. Franzoi then got the better of the younger rider to stake claim to elite title number three. The absence of the defending champion this year left the door open for Fontana to shine in the mud near Venice – beating Cristian Cominelli by 1'54". The 19 year-old rider from Brescia, student of Felice Gimondi, went home as Under 23 champion for his efforts.
"This was mine to win or lose, therefore I gave it a lot of grit." said Fontana after the race to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Is this revenge for 2006 and Franzoi? No, the event in Lucca is forgotten. Now I need to honour the jersey at the Worlds."
Fontana and Franzoi will lead the squadra azzurra at the World Championships in Treviso on January 27. The newly crowned Italian Champion finished 13th in 2007.
"I don't want to make a bad impression in front of my tifosi. I want to demonstrate that I am the Italian champion."
Fontana started with road racing before switching over to cyclo-cross, and he now wants to shift his focus to mountain biking to race the Olympics this summer. "Thanks to Vito [Di Tano] I have improved on my techniques," he noted of the directeur of Selle Italia-Guerciotti.
Elia Silvestri, a team-mate of Fontana, took the junior title.
For Cyclingnews' full coverage of National championship cyclo-cross events, go here.