Fresh off the Silver City Tour of the Gila, Will Routley doesn’t have long to soak up the downtime. “I am just home for a whole two days before heading back down to [Amgen Tour of California],” he told Canadian Cycling Magazine, writing from Abbotsford, B.C. The way he talks about the Tour of California, though, you get the impression that he can’t wait to get out there again.
“I am always excited to race the ATOC,” Routley said. “It is one of my favourite races in the world. Having spent so much time in the state, it actually feels a bit like a second home.”
Of course, part of Routley’s eagerness to saddle up in California might have something to do with his historic win at last year’s event. Claiming Stage 4, Routley earned top points on all three climbs during the 105-mile race, a picturesque route from Monterey to Cambria along California’s Highway One. Blowing away—or blowing past—the competition, Routley left California with the prized king of the mountain jersey, not to mention a good deal of confidence looking ahead to this year.
This weekend, the 32-year-old cyclist will see if his knack for breakaways , something for which he’s built a solid reputation, will keep that jersey on his shoulders.
“With the success I had at California last year,” Routley continued, “there is always going to be an expectation to live up to it.” With the way the Tour of the Gila went, though, he feels more than ready for California. “We had a great race as a team, and I was able to get in some altitude acclimation and also felt the form coming on strong.”
“So what does this mean for Tour of California? Well, it means I’ll be expecting to once again show my aggressive racing style, and keep my eyes open for opportunities. When opportunity knocks, I’ll be ready.”
For the second year in a row, Routley is going into the Tour of California as part of Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, riding alongside some impressive, competitive names in professional cycling. That, too, is something that inspires a lot of Routley’s confidence, he said. “We are going with a really strong team,” he said. “The team is actually pretty incredible this year, so it is great to be a part of.” His faith in his teammates seems unshakable, which include fellow Canuck Ryan Anderson. Anderson is coming back to competition after a crash at the Volta ao Alentejo, held in Portugal in late March, has the talented all-rounder on the sidelines in recovery.
“He came in so strong this year, just flying, so it was tough to see him crash and get hurt,” Routley said. “But he is on the mend and training hard again right now. This accident will be a distant memory soon.”
In preparation for the Women’s Invitational Time Trial of the Tour of California, held at Big Bear Lake on May 15, some other commanding names in Canadian cycling are gearing up. Jasmin Glaesser, also of Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, joins Laura Brown (UnitedHealthcare), Karol-Ann Canuel (Velocio-SRAM), Rhae Shaw (BMW p/b Happy Tooth Dental), Anika Todd (Team TIBO-SVB), and Tara Whitten of Canada’s national team in representing Canada during the 15.1 mile race. Routley’s wife, Shoshauna, will be riding for BMW p/b Happy Tooth Dental. Her teammate, Shaw, in particular, is keenly enthusiastic about the upcoming event—even to the extent of making a career change in anticipation of it. “I was planing to retire until I learned I had the opportunity to race in the 2015 Amgen Tour of California,” she said. “It’s a race worth sticking around for, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”