After a successful start to the 2012 UCI MTB World Cup, Cannondale Factory Racing proved to be in good form in Houffalize, Belgium by winning the team ranking. A third place by Marco Aurelio Fontana combined with a fifth by Manuel Fumic and Martin Gujan in seventeenth secured the first ever team ranking win for CFR.
Marco Aurelio Fontana, who finished ninth in Pietermaritzburg, rode the race he wanted to Houffalize. 'All in' was his motto, and that's precisely what he did in finishing third after riding most of the race alone about 20 seconds behind the leading duo.
"Wow, what a race on historical ground in Houffalize. I was really strong today, but was not in the front yet when [race-winner Julien] Absalon and [Nino] Schurter broke away. I rode consistently behind them with a 20 second gap. One might think I spent too much energy in chasing the leaders, but in fact I was happy to be alone to ride my own rhythm. I pushed where I was strong and recovered in other parts of the course. Our support crew helped me out a ton by giving me information all race long about the gap growing or getting smaller. Big thanks to everybody involved in this, I think it was a great show for our sport," Fontana said after the podium.
Fumic started the race with a high pace in the first two laps, recovered for two more, and put in a strong last lap to ensure a top result.
"I felt good all week but was not 100% sure if it would be enough to finish on the podium. But when I realized in the start loop that my legs were there I just kept going. My plan was to save myself for the finale and not waste too much energy. I am super happy with the two podium finishes this year already. I feel like this is where I belong, and it's tough to describe these feelings, especially when Marco is up there on the podium with me," said Fumic.
Martin Gujan in 17th and Jeremiah Bishop in 61st completed the good team appearance.
On Sunday morning, CFR junior Keegan Swenson rode to an impressive third place in his first World Cup in the 2012 season. Swenson dominated the race for long parts and surprised quite a few people with his performance.
Fontana, Fumic, Swenson and Bishop rode their Cannondale Flash 29er's in Houffalize, while Martin Gujan opted for the Flash 26.
Right after the race in Houffalize, Fontana and Fumic flew to London to have another training session on the Olympic course at Hadleigh Farm.