Routley representing Whistler at Canada Cup 

Local mountain biker sets sights on nationals

While most of Whistler was enjoying the late spring snowfalls, Will Routley was already in the saddle, putting in more miles of road and trail than even he can remember.

Since March, Routley has competed in somewhere between 20 and 30 races on the coast, heading as far south as Monterey, California for the legendary Sea Otter Classic.

Most of those races have been road competitions, which is a relatively new discipline for Routley. In the past he had viewed his road bike as a training tool for mountain biking, but that is changing as he has started to bring home some promising road results.

At the Columbia Plateau Stage Race in Oregon from May 2 to 4, a four-stage race covering more than 235 kilometres that attracts some of the top riders and teams in the country, Routley finished sixth overall. His position among the top riders was consolidated by a third-place finish in the third leg of the race.

"That was pretty exciting, getting on the podium," says Routley. "It was my first big result in road and just a big motivator for the rest of the year."

Although nothing short of an injury could tear Routley away from his mountain bike this summer, his success on the road has led him to expand his personal goals for the season.

"I’m enjoying both right now, and I hope I can still race both this summer. I think I’m a mountain biker at heart, but the road can be pretty interesting as well. It’s still pretty new to me, so the opportunities there are just opening up," Routley says.

That said, the next big thing on the horizon for Routley, who is turning 20 this month, is the Canada Cup national mountain bike series. He flew to Quebec on Wednesday to participate in the first cross country event of the season at Bromont this weekend, and will remain out east until after the second Canada Cup event at Hardwood Hills, Ontario at the end of May.

Although he will be against the top pro riders in the country, Canada Cup will be keeping track of Espoir (under 23) athletes in the standings this year, "So I think I’m going to go for that (title)," says Routley.

Another goal this summer is to compete and do well in the Tim Hortons Mountain Bike National Championships at home in Whistler.

"It’s a pretty big deal for me to be able to race at home for that one, and hopefully I can do well enough to go to the World Championships in Switzerland in September," Routley says.

He also has his eye on the Test of Metal, which is a UCI sanctioned event this year, and possibly the World Cup races at Grouse a week before the nationals.

"The World Cup is not as much a priority for me as the nationals, but I haven’t decided yet," he says.

While that’s a pretty full schedule, with local events like Loonie Races filling in the gaps between races, Routley is also hoping to compete at the national road championships in Quebec, and, if things go well in Quebec, the World Championships for road cycling in Hamilton, Ontario.

"I have to worry about the road nationals first, but I’ve surprised myself already this year. I’m doing well, so the thought (of racing in the worlds) has crossed my mind," he says.

This winter Routley spent more than two months with his teammate Ricky Federau training in the Lower Mainland, "putting in a lot of miles," to get ready for the season, and says he feels better prepared than past years.

If you want to follow Routley’s progress at the Canada Cup this weekend, visit Canadian Cyclist at www.canadiancyclist.com.

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