Marco Aurelio Fontana won what amounted to a mini World Cup on Sunday in Italy.
Europe’s top cross-country racers lined up for the second round of the 2010 Maremma Cup in Massa Marittima, Tuscany over the weekend. The field included Italian Champion Fontana, European Champion Ralph Näf, Olympic Champion Julien Absalon, Spanish Champion Jose Antonio Hermida, World Champion Nino Schurter, and Swiss Champion Florian Vogel.
The race started with a lead group containing Fontana, Näf and Vogel forming early. The trio soon managed to build an eighteen second advantage over their pursuers, but the blistering pace left Näf struggling to maintain contact before he eventually faded back into the pack.
Meanwhile, in a replay of last year’s World Championships in Canberra, Australia, Schurter and Absalon duked it out for third place, with Schurter again edging out the French strongman.
Out front, the two protagonists seemed evenly matched until Vogel started experiencing mechanical problems. Fontana took full advantage by attacking and taking the victory. Vogel finished second less than thirty seconds back.
With his victory this weekend and his second place on Feb. 28, Fontana is the overall winner of the 2010 Maremma Cup.
The women’s race was a tug-of-war between Eva Lechner and Nathalie Schneitter, teammates on the Colnago squad. The other competitors were unable to keep up with the pace set by the duo, who after the second lap had an one-minute advantage on Cecile Ravanel, Tereza Hurikova and Blaza Klemencic.
On the third lap, Hurikova broke a gear and had to stop, leaving third place to Ravanel. On the last lap, Lechner broke away from Schneitter, coming all alone under the finish line with a 46-second advantage on Schneitter and almost two minutes on Ravanel.
In its second year, the Maremma Cup included two cross-country races, of which Schurter won the first with Fontana coming in second, in the town of Massa Marittima and four short-track events on the streets of other historical towns over two weeks.