Italians Eva Lechner (Colnago Sudtirol) and Marco Fontana (Cannondale Factory Racing) both raced the Rome, Italy round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup on Sunday. Better known for their mountain bike achievements, both riders took advantage of the chance to race the best elite 'cross racers on their home turf.
Lechner put in the best Italian finish with a third place in the elite women's contest after Katie Compton and Marianne Vos. Her finish pleased local Italian fans cheering her on at Ippodromo delle Capannelle. The Italian national champion took the third and final spot on the podium after a battle with Pauline Ferrand Prevot that lasted until the last lap.
In the men's race, Fontana finished 15th, 2:08 behind winner Niels Albert. After having made the podium last year, Fontana's aspirations were high for this year despite the fact that this round of the World Cup would be his only major elite 'cross race of the season as his focus is on preparing for the 2014 mountain bike season.
"I certainly expected a better result, but the track was very muddy and hard," said Fontana. "From the beginning of the race, I tried to gain positions [after starting in 40th]. I felt pretty good and I was getting closer to the first riders but at mid-race, I got nervous because I could not reach the best and I made some little mistakes."
"I'm not satisfied with the final placement, but I'm happy with my legs and with my physical condition. The work I am doing in this winter will pay off."
Lechner is ranked 10th in the elite women's World Cup standings while Fontana is ranked 47th after today's round six of seven. Both riders are expected to defend their Italian 'cross national titles next weekend on Orvieto.