By Andrew Mitchell
While most of the Symmetrics Pro Cycling Team sat indoors and watched the snow blanket the Lower Mainland this winter, Whistler’s Will Routley was in Australia, putting in long rides in the morning and swimming in the ocean in the afternoon. Looking back, Routley says that was the best decision he could have made.
“I just got back, but so far I’ve been in the top three in over half the races I’ve done, so I’m pretty keen,” he said. “I’m thinking that now it’s time to take it to the next level and get some results in the UCI races we do and take an actual international level win. The team is riding really well, so it’s definitely doable.”
Last weekend Routley found himself on the podium twice in two road races.
In the Tahuya Seabeck Tahuya race in Washington, Routley was the lone Symmetrics rider against a field that included 20 members of the Lake Washington Velo/Hagens-Berman Cycling team. Routley had a strong race, but the best he could do with those odds was third place.
“It’s hard to be an individual against a giant team,” said Routley. “I was really aggressive, I was attacking constantly and formed a lot of nice breakaways, but in one breakaway there were eight of us and four of them were from that team. It really shows how much cycling is a team sport, because this was their race and they really wanted to win it, and that’s what they did.”
Routley followed up his third on Saturday with a win the following day in the Harris-Roubaix, the first B.C. Cup race of the season. Routley was part of a team of six in that race, and found himself in the lead group with three teammates, Cameron Evans, Zach Bell and Svein Tuft. Evans took second place.
From Whistler, Dave Burch and Tony Routley finished second and 11 th in Category 3, while Josh Stott was 11 th .
For Will, finishing up front has revived his enthusiasm for the sport. After making a splash a few years ago with several B.C. Cup wins, and strong results in national and international races, Routley started last season with a few frustrating health issues that left him at the back of the pack and drained his motivation.
He entered this season in perfect health, switched coaches, and is enjoying being part of the Symmetrics team.
“Last year was a combination of all sorts of things and my motivation was not as good,” he said. “This year my training all winter went really well, and I stayed healthy the whole time. Usually I’d get some sort of flu, but this year there was nothing and that’s making a big difference.
“This year I’m also working with (Whistler trainer) Val Burke, who has coached all our local triathletes. I’ve always been happy with my previous coach who I’d been with for quite a few years, but it was good to have a change and so far everything is working out really well.”
Next up for Will and the Symmetrics team is a nine-day UCI stage race in El Salvador. The race is an important one for the team, as Symmetrics is currently ranked second in North America, and rider Svein Tufts is in first in the individual standings after a win at the U.S. Open.
The race is also important for Canada, looking ahead to the 2008 Olympic Games.
“The better we’re doing, the more riders Canada will be able to send to the world championships, and the more Canada will be able to send to the Olympics,” said Routley. “Last year we had two men in the world championships, but if we do well in the Americas we could get five or six men in this year.”
Those riders would be able to work together as a team in the championships, something that is challenging for two riders.
“Case in point was last weekend’s race in Washington. I raced as hard as I could, I felt strong, but in the end I couldn’t beat that many teammates. On Sunday there were six of us and I won. That’s the difference.”
Routley will focus this summer on the nationals, the Grand Prix Cycliste de Beauce, and Super Week in the Lower Mainland. He is also hoping to get to more UCI events.
He will be living and training in Whistler this summer, and plans to go to school full time in the fall while joining his teammates in Langley.
A former junior mountain bike champion, Routley says he would like to get into a few Loonie Races if possible — right now he doesn’t even have a mountain bike.
“My focus is definitely on the road, but it would be good to get off the road a few times to mix things up a bit. I’ll probably have to borrow a bike.”