Whistler's Will Routley would have been the favourite coming into the 2011 edition of the Banff National Park Bike Fest, and he didn't disappoint. Routley placed first overall in the general classification with a total time of six hours, 36 minutes and 31 seconds.
He raced alone, with most of his team members heading to Quebec to take part in the UCI-sanctioned Tour de Beauce. Routley decided to go off on his own for two reasons - one was to recharge and focus on the upcoming nationals, where he'll defend his title, and the other was to give some of his teammates on Team Spidertech powered by C10 a chance to ride. Before Beauce, Routley had more race days than any other Spidertech member.
"After the spring Euro trip and Turkey and California I was pretty exhausted," he said. "I came back to Whistler and slept for a week solid, then got in a couple of weeks of proper training instead of travelling and racing and squeezing in training here and there. I used the race in Banff to tune up for the nationals and it went really well, I felt better and better every day."
He finished with a second place finish in the Tunnel Mountain Road Race portion, a bike length behind Justin Kerr of Team H&R Block. With rain and cold weather, he was first in the time trial by almost 30 seconds, and followed up with a sixth place in the criterium through the town of Banff. In the opening Lake Louise Road Race, he stuck with the lead group and placed fifth, one second back of the top three. When all was said and done he had first place by 48 seconds.
While Bike Fest is a smaller event than Beauce, Routley was impressed by the course and the size of the crowds - smaller than last year because of the weather, but still pretty big for a regional event.
He also had to ride alone after a season of being supported as part of a team.
"That made it tough," he said. "The biggest prize money for the overall, and I felt I had a decent time trial. That's when I took the lead and had to defend it in the crit and final road race, so I had two hard stages to figure out how to defend my lead myself and fend off attacks."
While Routley was on his own when he won the nationals in 2010, he says that Team Spidertech will be riding that event as a team with the goal of winning. They haven't discussed team tactics for the ride, but Routley's goal is to defend his title this week.