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Routley third espoir in road nationals

Kamloops heat takes its toll as only 21 riders finish race


Will Routley all but clinched a spot with Team Canada in the road world championships with another strong performance at the Tim Hortons Road National Championships in Kamloops last Sunday.

Routley finished the 180 km course in just over five hours to rank third in the espoir (under 24) category.

The week before he placed first among all espoirs in the Grand Prix Cycliste de Beauce stage race in Quebec, one of North America’s most challenging and prestigious races. The week before that he placed first in a B.C. Cup.

"Between that and my results at Beauce I think I have a good chance of making the team," said Routley, who should know whether he is named by the end of the week.

The nationals were brutal this year, with racers doing 18 laps of a challenging 10 km loop. The temperature was 39 degrees for the time trials the day before, "and actually cooled down to the low or mid-30s for the road race, which believe it or not felt cooler at that point," said Routley.

He drank a half-litre bottle of water on every lap, consuming a total of nine litres during the race and a lot more afterwards. A day later he was still several pounds below his usual weight.

It was a race of attrition with only 21 out of 130 riders making it to the finish line due to being lapped or pulling out of the competition. Only seven of those finishers were in the espoir group, out of 50 espoirs who started.

"It was a tough race, one of the toughest I’ve done. You couldn’t really race as a team, you just got into a group and kept charging to the front," Routley said. He lead his group to the finish line, making a late break that put him at the front of three other espoirs who were also vying for the chance to represent Canada.

Routley was excited that the winner in the epoir category was Cam Evans, who he races with on the Symmetrics Cycling team.

"It’s pretty unusual for two guys on the same road team to make the national team. It should help us a lot (in the worlds) that we know each other," said Routley.

Routley will switch to mountain biking this weekend as he heads to Alberta to compete in the World Cup cross-country at Canada Olympic Park. After that he has a six-stage road race in Oregon, the mountain bike nationals, and the Tour de Gastown in Vancouver.