Part of the winning team relay squad on Wednesday afternoon in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Marco Fontana helped Italy bring home the gold and defend its world championship title from the previous year. While some elite riders chose to sit out the team relay and save their legs for the cross country, Fontana considers the team relay a valuable chance to get in a hot lap of the course under some positive pressure.
"To do a hot lap shows you some things that you don't realize when you are riding the course at training speed," said Fontana after winning the team relay gold medal. "The course is amazing. I think it's one of the best looking and riding courses we ever had."
The Italian national champion arrived on Sunday to South Africa. "We landed on Sunday. First day of training was on Monday, but course was closed. So our first day on course was Tuesday. We didn't have much time to do hot laps and figure it out. I wasn't sure how fast it would go. I was guessing my lap would be something below 15 minutes."
Fontana's team relay lap stopped the clock at 13:39, not the fastest time of the day, but only seven seconds off the pace of Maxime Marotte (France) and Manuel Fumic (Germany), who were, in fact, the day's quickest.
"I didn't expect the course to be quite that fast; it just seems to be getting faster. We'll see how many laps we have to do on Friday. I hope it's not too many," he joked.
"On race day, the pace will be a little lower because of the heat and we'll have to drink a lot. For sure, the rocks are pretty smooth, not that bad, so the risk of having a flat tire is not that high, but still you'll have to ride smoothly."
"You can see the course changing a little because of all the riders (training) on it. The dust is getting less loose. The loose stuff goes to the outside. Then you have a fast line left which you have to follow."
The good humoured Fontana was glowing after his team's victory in the relay and ready for some more action.
"Now we're here and the Worlds have started, so let's keep going!" he said.