Marco Fontana is no stranger to getting full use out of his Cannondale bicycle quiver by racing XC, Cyclocross and Enduro most weekends throughout the year. Shortly after stepping off the 2014 XC Worlds Podium, Marco went full gas into the Cyclocross season taking yet another Italian National Championship, a top 15 at Hoogerheide World Cup and a 10th at Cyclocross Worlds.
This spring a unique opportunity was presented to Marco to again suit up in Italian blue but this time with a new skinnier tire bike at the famous Strade Bianche. Cannondale Factory Racing team manager, Daniel Hespeler, sat down with Marco to learn more...
You are known as the only active rider who has been standing on a CX and XC World Cup podium.
What does it mean to you to compete in both Offroad disciplines?
Racing means so much for me. I do love the competition, the feeling of it, the emotions afterwords... and the 2 disciplines are very similar in this case.
I have to admit that my very first official off road race was a CX one and I still enjoy the winter as that time even with cold days, mud and rain. The problem is that I like MTB even more... In 2015 you will race the infamous Strade Bianche Road Race in Italy.
Please tell us a bit about the reasons for your decision to implement this road race in your calendar.
I had a chat with Davide Cassani (Road PRO coach) back in december and he asked me if I wanted to race with the road PROs to try a "new" discipline and see how it goes. Since the UCI XCO World Cup does not start until late in May we decided to give it a go. The Strade Bianche marks the end of a long training period for me with lots of base miles, so it was a perfect fit. I can not wait for this experience.
Since you never really competed on the road in the past, what special preparation did you do to get ready for this race?
After the bronze at World Champs 2014 I want to keep my level high and get better in the Word Cup overall so I'm not doing a special preparation for Strade Bianche but since I'm working hard on long training as well this race will be perfect as a final step before our main season begins. It literally is the peak of a long period of training, and the turnaround point for full focus on XCO specific training.
I spoke to a few Road PRO's to get a bit of an idea what i will be faced with, and we did a good portion of the course as well already… I also tried the equipoment needed to survive on the gravel roads. I think i am prepared, but am well aware this is gonna be tough.
Why did you choose the Strade Bianche and what is the goal for you there?
The Strade Bianche is a very cool race and happens in an amazing surrounding in Tuscany. Obviously the fact that we have around 50km of white roads (gravel roads) is something that attracts me a lot.
The main goal is to make it to the finish line (it's 200km) but If I will show up in the last 60km still in the front pack, who knows what could happen...
Since this is such a special event, what type of bike will you be racing during this event?
After we discussed this project with the team management and the mechanics, everybody was fully committed and we tried to put together the best fitting machine for this. I will use a special edition Cannondale Synapse, the same one the Cannondale Garmin Team uses in the classics.
The bike is all tricked out with Enve wheels and Schwalbe 26mm tubulars with a special Classics thread. All our MTB partners helped out to make this bike a special one and get me ready for this new experience. Thanks to SRAM, ENVE, FSA, SCHWALBE and PROLOGO to make this happen.