Routley named to Team Canada 

Despite illness and frustration, Whistler cyclist to represent country at cycling world championships in Spain

"The results never tell the whole story," says cyclist Will Routley, a member of Team Symmetrics – and, as of Tuesday, a member of Canada’s 2005 World Road Championship Team.

Routley had a strong start to the season this year with a win in a B.C. Cup road race. Shortly afterwards he headed with his team to the U.S. to take part in a series of high profile stage races, where he came down with the first of a series of illnesses that slowed him down until recently.

He still did his best to help his teammates in races, but didn’t come away with any personal results.

It was a disappointment after his previous season, where he finished third in the nationals, won a B.C. Cup race, placed second in the Tour de White Rock, and took the red junior jersey at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Beauce, Canada’s top stage race.

Routley started to recover from his illness just over a month ago when he was named King of the Mountain in the Westside Classic for the fastest hill climb, but hit his stride too late to repeat his previous year’s feat at the nationals in Kamloops. Still, he managed to finish a respectable sixth among Espoirs (Under 23) and stay with the lead group until the very end – he was just 12 seconds off the podium after 18 laps on one of the hardest courses in Canada.

"I was a little disappointed. In the winter I would have said my goal was to finish as the top Espoir and maybe even first or with a strong result overall," he said.

Convinced that he had blown his chance to race in the UCI World Championships, Routley had high hopes for Superweek, a three-race series in the Lower Mainland that includes the Tour de Delta, the Tour de Gastown criterium and the Tour de White Rock.

In all three races the best Routley could do was to help his teammates land their own podium spots, although he had a good chance to repeat in White Rock.

"(Superweek) was pretty solid," he said. "In the end I was a little disappointed not to come out with a big result personally… but it still was really good, we rode well as a team, and really at the end of the day that’s the way we have to ride.

"I think I finally came around in the end at White Rock. I felt pretty good for all three events there, and for me just feeling good and being able to animate the race – taking part in a lot of the attacks, chasing things down for my teammates, doing my job – was huge. I felt like I could do everything well – and even better I was in contention for a result, and I haven’t felt that way for a long, long time.

"I realized that I was still doing alright, I’m not a total pilon out there. It doesn’t always come easy and sometimes it’s a bit of a struggle because you’re only really as good as your last race, but now I feel motivated."

Routley planned to take a week off his road bike, and maybe go for a few mountain bike rides in early August before getting back in training for fall races. He just found out that his team had been invited to the San Francisco Grand Prix on the Labour Day weekend and wanted to be ready.

While it’s widely considered to be one of the toughest road races in North America, the San Francisco Grand Prix also draws the biggest crowds, with an estimated 500,000 people lining the course.

"To me the Tour de Gastown is amazing, and there are just 30,000-40,000 people in the crowds for that. I can’t even imagine what that’s going to be like, and the speeds you get on some of those hills are crazy," he said.

The San Francisco race was going to be Routley’s first priority until he got the call on Tuesday asking if he’d like to join the Canadian Team in Madrid at the end of September for the UCI World Championships. The team will head down a few weeks early to warm up in some stage races in Madrid.

"I’d pretty much given up on any hope of being asked to be on the team. This is my last year as an Espoir and I really wanted to take advantage of that but after my little slump I had kind of pushed it out of my mind," he said.

"I woke up this morning and I was planning on taking the week off, I wasn’t even going to think about what I was doing next until after that, but all of a sudden I have to start making some plans to get out there on the bike. Maybe I’ll even have good form by that point."

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