Endurance: Mountain biking

Marco Fontana poised for a breakthrough

March, 4, 2013
3/04/13
11:25
AM ET
FontanaCarl de Souza/AFP/Getty ImagesMarco Fontana is regarded as one of the better bike handlers on the World Cup circuit.
FINALE LIGURE, Italy -- It's hard to make sweeping assessments about a person based on only a handful of encounters, but Marco Fontana seems pretty damn relaxed for an endurance athlete.

In a world where calories are counted with a banker's precision, workouts take precedence over friends and family, and winners and losers are often separated by who is willing to deny themselves more of life's carnal pleasures, Fontana exudes a free-spirited attitude that's more in line with the enduro riders that share storage space with him inside the Cannondale Factory Racing team truck.

During the team's two-day press launch in Finale Ligure at the end of February, the cross-country racer wore a perpetual grin despite a non-stop slate of interviews, photo shoots, meet-and-greets, and very little actual productive training time. But Fontana, also known as "Fonzie," never got bent, and instead took it all in stride.

"The guy is just so laid back and relaxed," said Murray Washburn, Cannondale's global director of product marketing. "Nothing gets him riled up. He really epitomizes the kind of rider that we look for. Sure, we're in a results-driven business, but we're also mountain bikers. You can't lose sight of that, and Marco gets that."

Make no mistake, though, come game time Fontana is a cold-blooded cross-country racing killer. In 2012, the 28-year-old Italian was fourth in the final World Cup standings, and he won a bronze medal at the London Olympics. You're likely familiar with the later feat, which saw Fontana dropped from the lead group on the race's final lap when his saddle snapped off. If things had gone differently, he's convinced he would have been in the mix for gold.

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