Fontana surprises at Italian 'cross nationals

Marco Aurelio Fontana (Cannondale) splashes to the win in Italy.

Marco Aurelio Fontana (Cannondale) splashes to the win in Italy. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Mountain biker Marco Aurelio Fontana brought his Cannondale Factory Racing team its first victory of 2010 at the Italian Cyclo-cross National Championship near Milan. Fontana outplayed the favorite, Enrico Franzoi (BKCP Powerplus), and won his second 'cross title in three years.

Fontana's win was unexpected as Franzoi had topped him in previous head-to-head races this season. However, he successfully countered Franzoi's early attacks and opened a gap of 30 seconds after Franzoi was slowed by a flat tire.  Fontana is the reigning Italian mountain bike national champion.

"I felt very strong and the mud was not too bad, so I was able to keep my speed throughout the race," said Fontana, 25, who also suffered a puncture during the race. "Even when I got a flat tire during the last quarter of the race, I did not lose too much time to Franzoi."

Fontana flatted right after the tech zone and had to ride it about two kilometres until he could change his bike, but Franzoi was already too far behind to rejoin. "Franzoi was strong during the last two laps and closed the gap a little bit, but in the end I was stronger," said the winner.

Marco Bianco (L'Arcobaleno Carraro Team) was third in the championship race.

Fontana is a regular on the international mountain bike circuit. He finished fifth at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and was a member of the winning team at the 2009 World Championships in Canberra, Australia.

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.