Three summers ago Whistler’s Will Routley came within seconds of winning the Tour de Delta after riding aggressively and leading breaks up the toughest climbs on course — only to find himself in a lead pack of three riders with two members of Team Jelly Belly. Outnumbered two-to-one, he was constantly being challenged by one rider while another rested on his back wheel, he found himself in second after the last hill climb to the finish.
Routley, 24, entered this season determined not to let that happen again. His goal from the beginning has been to ride well and to win an event in Super Week, which began last weekend and includes the Tour de White Rock, the Tour de Gastown and the Tour de Delta.
This time everything worked out as planned in the Tour de White Rock. He rode aggressively all day, and made three breaks that set the tone for the day.
He made his first break about 10 km into the race, with teammate Zach Bell and a rider from the Jittery Joe’s team.
“It felt good up there (with Zach), even with the rider from Jittery Joe’s just following behind us and not working, but after about half an hour we got caught by the main field,” said Routley. “The Navigators (Insurance) team and Jittery Joe’s were chasing pretty hard and weren’t going to let us get away that easily. As soon as they caught us the other guys started to attack, so I decided to go again.”
Routley made a solo break that lasted for a lap until teammate Christian Meyer, 22, bridged up with a member of Team Trek-Red Truck Ale.
“We rode as hard as we could, and the Trek rider started to fade so it was just me and Christian with about half an hour to go,” said Routley.
“We had about three minutes on the field at one point, but then the Navigators team started to attack again, to the point where they were less than half a minute back at the end. We were both suffering and cramping and bonking. When you’re in a breakaway that long it’s tough, because in the peleton everybody gets to rest.
“Although it’s a good course to be aggressive because of all the hills. You still get a little bit more rest in the peleton, but everybody still has to work on all the climbs. If there’s one race to ride aggressively, that’s the one.”
Routley and Meier talked about who would cross the line first, but when they saw the Navigators team bridging up heading into the last climb to the finish they decided to both sprint as hard as they could. Routley was still feeling good, and took the win by just over half a second.