Will Routley didn't have a team to support him Saturday at the 2010 Canadian Road Cycling Championships in Edmonton, and he was up against a tough field of pro riders - including many of his former teammates with Symmetric Cycling and Olympians from 2008. Despite these challenges Routley came into the race with a strategy and a lot of confidence after a strong early season with his pro team, Team Jelly Belly presented by Kenda, and a strong performance at the Tour de Beauce in Quebec the previous week as a member of Team Canada.
The result was Routley's first senior national road title and his first national title on a bike since he made the move to road from mountain biking coming out of high school.
"It feels bloody good," said Routley from his new digs in Abbotsford. "I think this is the best result ever for me. It means the most and it was the most exciting, and the nationals were a tough fought race.
While the national championship is usually a sprint from start to finish Canada's only pro team, team SpiderTech presented by Planet Energy, brought 12 riders to the race and team tactics were very much in play. As well, several Canadian riders with U.S. teams turned up and also worked together to split up the field.
Routley knew it would be tough, but forced himself to sit back until he figured out what the other riders were planning as the 182-km race unfolded.
"It was an aggressive race right from the get-go, which was really good for me - I was hoping it would be a harder, more aggressive day because that's where I seem to do the best recently. I was able to sit back the first couple of laps and observe how other people were going to race and see how things were looking."
Routley says he was a spectator for the first hour or so, then moved his way to the front where he made sure to get into the first breakaway with nine other riders.
"They were establishing a good gap, but I was able to seize the moment and bridge across by myself and leave the rest of the pack behind," he said.
Once he was in the lead group Routley turned up the intensity and made sure he was in a good position for the final sprint.
"There were just two of us at the finish," he said. "I tried to attack (Andrew) Randell (of SpiderTech) on the last climb, but he had legs left and was able to stay with me. And then it was just the two of us rolling into the finish. I just tried to ride fast enough to stay ahead of him and the eight or nine guys behind me and I was able to make it across."