Whistler's Will Routley has had a long season, but a good one. He won the national road title back in June, and before that earned the most aggressive jersey on one stage in the Amgen Tour of California. His team, Jelly Belly Cycling, won stage races in Thailand and Korea and was a factor in other events.
Routley returned home for a few events of the Superweek series, and earned a few podium placings here before heading back out to race.
Last week he was named to the Team SpiderTech, presented by Planet Energy - Canada's only pro cycling team competing on the UCI Continental Cup Circuit. The team is managed by Steve Bauer, arguably Canada's top road cyclist of all time.
Now Routley is on his way to New Delhi, India where he will represent Canada at the Commonwealth Games.
Routley generally does better on hills, but says he's looking forward to racing in India even if it's a flat course.
"The Commonwealth Games will be my last race in a long season," he said. "It is a flat course with the world's best sprinters in attendance - this means everyone thinks it will be a sprint finish, but the riders aren't with their normal teams so my goal is to race it aggressively and hopefully it will not be a sprint. I want to go for a medal. My goal is always to race my best and go for results. It doesn't always happen in road cycling, as there are so many factors at play, but this late in the season it is a big mental game and I want to finish off with a great ride."
Ryder Hesjedal, Canada's top rider with a seventh place finish in this year's Tour de France, declined to be part of the Commonwealth Games team this year because of other team commitments, but the rest of the squad will be solid with Routley's former Symmetrics teammates Svein Tuft and Zach Bell on the team. They will be joined by Michael Barry.
At press time there was a small chance that Canada might withdraw from the Commonwealth Games because of concerns about the cleanliness of the athletes village and incomplete venues. A pedestrian footbridge to one of the stadiums collapsed last week and construction is still not complete in the area of the city hosting events. There has been a recent outbreak of mosquito-borne disease as well as a recent terror attack.
If the Games go on as planned then Routley will take a break afterwards, before joining SpiderTech in training for next season. He doesn't know all of his new teammates yet but is pleased to have a chance to race in some bigger events.
"I am really looking forward to riding with SpiderTech next year, as the team is registering at the pro Continental level," he said, "meaning we can potentially race anything out there. The calendar isn't set yet, but we'll likely spend a big chunk of time in Europe in the spring."
Being on a Canadian team won't necessarily mean more time at home in B.C. Even when the team is on Canadian soil they will be spending most of their time in Quebec. Routley says he's working on his French.
"The team is looking to step things up next year and achieve some results against the world's best in Europe," he said. "The focus is on Canadian riders, with an aim of a Canadian team at Le Tour de France, and this is a realistic goal in the near future."
In the short-term, Routley wants to continue the progress he's made over the last few years.
"I want to be a part of getting this team to the Tour de France and I personally want to win a significant race in Europe. I also want to defend my national title, firstly to keep it within my new team and secondly to try and repeat myself."
Routley raced in the recent UCI Pro Tour events in Montreal and Quebec City, and said he had good races even if it didn't show in the results.
"I didn't fully show the fitness I had," he said. "It is a different style of racing and was a valuable learning experience. It will take a few of those to know exactly who to follow, when to conserve and when to throw down the big efforts."
The Commonwealth Games run from Oct. 3 to 14, and Routley will be racing in the road race on Oct. 10, and possibly the time trial son Oct. 13. CBC will be broadcasting the events in Canada.