There weren't many positives in Will Routley's 2015 road cycling season.
But he's turned things around pretty darn quickly in 2016.
Routley, a Whistler native now living in Abbotsford, appeared back in form at the GP Liberty Seguros in Portugal on March 12 and 13, winning the second and final stage and taking the runner-up position overall, just three seconds behind Norway's August Jensen. Meanwhile, he was two seconds up on Spain's Vicente Garcia and four seconds up on France's Pierre Moncorge and Spain's Imanol Estevez.
Routley said in an email that training with his wife Shoshauna in Ventura, Calif. in the weeks leading up to the season proved to be a major help to his cause.
"I'll take a (stage) win any time, but to get a win at a race like this, and second on the overall (general classification), it is just great. Shani and I have spent the last two months in California training, and I did a couple little camps with my Rally Cycling team, we did the NorCal races, and rode a cyclo tour to get from one town to the other. It was a ton of fun, and hard training, so a great way to get set up for the season.
"I am at a stage now where I just want to enjoy it, and any success I get, a win like this, it is something to just absorb and enjoy."
Though the race was just two days, Routley explained it was a challenging one. The first stage was a gruelling 154 kilometres while the second ramped up to 186 kilometres. He noted all riders were taking risks on the technical roads, trying to push the limits in the hopes of tasting victory after emerging fresh from the offseason. Routley weathered the storm, saying he remained calm and kept his head up, but he said the aggressive tack didn't work out for many others as they crashed along the route.
"For me, I generally ride to the top when a race is hard all day, non-stop attacking, climb after climb back to back," he said. "We came into the final 15 kilometres of the race with a smaller group, (and) that is when I have the best chance of attacking and winning a race. These races in Portugal are the season openers, so the teams from here are super motivated. It makes for aggressive racing and I was able to capitalize on that."
After wrapping his season last fall, Routley said he took a long break to hit the gym and get back to riding for the fun of it. He also kept busy on his farm before heading down to California early in the New Year.
"Maybe it was chasing those pigs around and workin' the fields that got the morale up and the motivation high to train again," he noted. "Shoshauna and I made our annual road trip south to Ventura, California, stayed with great people, and trained like a banshee down there."
One change for Routley's team this year is it's taken on a new naming sponsor and is known as Rally Cycling. The support will bring stability to the squad, he explained.
It's one less concern to think about, especially at this point in his career, where he knows exactly how he ticks and how to be successful.
"I'll turn 33 years old in May, so at this stage, it is mental, and fun and positive environment leads to success," he wrote.
Routley returned to action almost immediately with the five-stage Volta ao Alentejo kicking off in Portugal on March 16.
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