Manuel Fumic (Cannondale Factory Racing) raced to a third place at the opening cross country World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa on Saturday. Not only a good start to the season, the podium finish helped him score a spot on the German Olympic Team headed to London in August.
In an interview at a recent team camp, Fumic told Cyclingnews that he was pre-qualified by the German Cycling Federation for its Olympic team. To finalize his selection, he had to finish in the top 15 in one of the first four World Cups this spring. That mission was accomplished in Pietermaritzburg.
"I was pretty nervous the last day, but this morning I was sure I could do well," said Fumic just after finishing the race. "I hoped to repeat last year's result, but half way through the race while in the leading group, I saw the podium as possible." He was racing with eventual winner Nino Schurter (Scott Swisspower) and Burry Stander (Specialized) as part of the three-man lead group.
"When Nino attacked, I could not go with them, but could keep riding my speed and lines for the last lap," said Fumic. "I am super happy about the result and even more happy to have my Olympic ticket for sure. Now the team and myself can focus on the next races, and we are trying to confirm what we did today."
Cannondale Factory Racing teammate Marco Fontana also had a solid ride to finish ninth, an impressive result considering that he had dislocated his shoulder just a few weeks ago during a training camp in Italy.
"When I woke up in the hospital two weeks ago after dislocating my shoulder in Finale Ligure, I saw Pietermaritzburg in danger for me," said Fontana. "But things developed well, and I am happy I could race. I tried to play it safe and not take too many risks, just to make sure it heals up perfectly. I look forward to the next races and for sure am excited for Manuel's third place and the team's second in the team ranking," said Fontana.
Fumic and Fontana will race the next World Cup in Houffalize, Belgium. In the interim, they will compete in some national series races.