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Routley on top of World Masters Games

First in cross country, fifth in road race

Will Routley isn’t the only Routley with good news in cycling to report.

His father Tony Routley took part in the 2005 World Masters Games in Edmonton last weekend, competing in the mountain bike and road racing events in the 45-49 age group. The Masters Games are open to athletes aged 30 and up, with sports ranging from track and field to basketball to rugby.

Routley, 49, finished first out of close to 50 starters in his age category in the mountain bike race, crossing the finish line of the 27.6 km course in 1:07:46. His closest competitor was more than two minutes back.

"It was a challenging course, not in terms of being technical, but because it was fast," he said. "My average speed was 24.5 kilometres an hour, and it’s a lot of fun at that speed but you also have to be on top of your bike and have some pretty good skills around the corners."

Tony led from the beginning of the cross-county race. One rider kept up for the first lap, but Tony dropped him early on the second lap.

"I went into the race with just one thing on my mind, and that was to win, do or die," he said. "I did the Masters Games a few years ago in Australia and I finished third, and I was determined to at least match that and maybe do better. I’ve been feeling pretty strong lately and knew I had the legs to do this."

A win in the World Masters Games – "which is kind of like an Olympics for old farts" – ranks among his top accomplishments, according to Routley. "The competition was pretty good, there were some really hardcore riders in the field, and some who were just out there for the challenge. The (Masters Games) only take place every four years so it was a big day for me."

In the road race, Routley finished fifth out of almost 80 competitors in his age group, a fraction of a second off the podium. "It was a matter where if I were the width of one wheel further ahead I would have been first," he said.

Like his son Will, Tony only recently got into road racing by taking part in a few B.C. Cup events and the nationals last season. It took him a while to figure out the strategy, and he arrived in Edmonton ready to do some damage.

"It’s really different than mountain biking, where you hop on your bike and go like hell," he said. "On the road the strongest rider doesn’t always win, there’s a lot of strategy, you have to conserve yourself a little more and just try to stay with the lead group until the end."

Routley’s next big mountain bike event is the World Masters Championship at Sun Peaks, which is an annual event sanctioned by the UCI. Routley also has a bronze medal to his credit in this event, but after Edmonton he believes he has a shot at gold.

Routley also wants to wrap up the B.C. Cup Marathon mountain bike series on the podium He’s currently third after three races. The two remaining events are the Gear Jammer in Squamish and the Cheakamus Challenge from Squamish to Whistler.

Over 21,000 athletes from 84 countries are participating in the Masters Games, about two thirds of which are from Canada and the U.S. Australia is also well represented with over 1,400 athletes in the field.

Cycling has one of the highest participation rates among the sports with close to 1,000 athletes in the field.