Whistler's Will Routley has had his fair share of success in one-day cycling events as well as individual stages of multi-day events, but putting together a full eight-stage race is not always part of the plan. In some races Routley has been a role player, carrying water, breaking the wind, chasing breaks and supporting his teammates. In others, he's been sick, flatted or crashed, putting overall results out of reach.
But most of the time Routley's priority from the start is to win a stage, a sprint or a climb, which takes a different kind of effort than doing well in the overall general classification.
But at the recent eight-stage Tour of Turkey, suddenly it became all about the General Classification after Routley managed to stick with the early breaks and put himself in a position to place in the top 10 overall in the pro circuit event. After that it was a priority to do well in the standings.
"The results don't tell the whole story," he said of his 10th place finish. "People often look at a stage and say, 'oh a sprint finish,' but many of the days the front group was 50 guys — which seems like a bunch sprint, but the field was 200, so that means 150 guys were dropped. So it's not an easy day.
"Also, the racing was very aggressive, there were so many attempts and breakaways, but there is also a lot of motivation for all those in the top 10 in the overall to stay there, so there is a lot of energy (spent) to thwart those breakaways."
The field was also extremely competitive with top pro riders using the event as a tune-up for the Giro d'Italia. Nobody was letting any breaks get away without a challenge.
"Many teams were working for their sprinters, again giving a lot of horsepower to bring things back together," said Routley.
Routley, who rides for Team SpiderTech powered by C10, Canada's elite Pro Continental team, said they went into each day with a strategy. By the end the strategy was to preserve his top 10 ranking, which was not easy.
"As for the sprint to the finish, that is only the last few kilometres of a long day racing," he said. "The main strategy there while riding to conserve a top 10 GC position is not to lose time. Crashes and tired legs mean gaps can easily open in the final sprint and losing five or 10 seconds could cost us everything, so the guys (his teammates) would help me stay safe and well-positioned. Staying safe is a big part of it."
With 50 riders in the sprint to the finish there were large crashes every day. Avoiding those crashes and finishing close to the leader every day made all the difference.