Olympic athlete to tour leader

With the unveiling of the Team GB kit, the Olympic Park nearly complete and the opening ceremony drawing ever closer, Olympic fever is taking over the nation. As the excitement builds for our athletes and the expectations of the nation increase, stories of former Olympians resonate. Croatian cycling leader, Vlado Fumic, talks us through his journey from elite Olympian to Exodus tour leader.

How did you first get into cycling? 
When I was a kid many of my friends had bikes and were members of a cycling club and I wanted to be involved. I fell in love with cycling at a young age but it was a long time before I could get my own bike. I started training at 14 when I finally joined a racing club and that’s when I bought my first bike. I loved the feeling of freedom that cycling gave me.

What made you want to compete at the highest level?
From the start I was eager to prove myself and win races. I demonstrated my talent early on, and by the age of 16 I was junior champion of Yugoslavia. This was a huge achievement as the category comprised of riders who were 18 years old. I was part of the Yugoslavian cycle team as a junior and as a senior from 1971-1984. I was highly motivated to retain my high level and winning races was a very special feeling for me.

What did the training involve?
At my highest level I was training between two and ten hours a day, depending on the type of exercise, and sometimes twice a day. I travelled for more than 90 days every year to various events and training camps to prepare for the racing season. Training consisted of various exercises which needed 100% dedication; one needs to live and breathe the sport to succeed.

What do you consider your biggest achievements as an athlete?
I won 15 National Championships in Yugoslavia, held multiple track records and competed in the Men’s Sprint and Men’s 1000m time trial at the Montreal Summer Olympic Games.

What led you to become a cycling tour leader? 
I have run a bike-shop for almost 30 years now, selling and maintaining bicycles. I am known for organising numerous races, gatherings and Sunday rides - you could call me a meeting point for riders! Since I had all the necessary qualifications, it seemed only natural to start leading cycle trips. What I enjoy most is the light, relaxing atmosphere on tours and riding through a variety of landscapes.

What makes Croatia such a fantastic cycling destination?
Croatia is a small country with surprising diversity, so cycling is the ideal way to explore it. You’ll be riding over the rugged mountains one day and pedalling the beautifully dramatic Dalmatian coastline the next. It is difficult to put into words - it simply needs to be experienced.

We have three cycling holidays in Croatia; Vlado will be leading all ‘Mountain Biking in Croatia’ and ‘Cycling through Istria’ trips. ‘Cycling the Dalmatian Coast’ is our other tour that takes in the breathtaking Croatian coastline.

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