When you finish 5th overall at an event like the Tour of Alberta, as Ryan Anderson did last year, you’ve got a lot of reason to feel confident going into the 2015 National Championships. Still, Anderson is keeping his head down and his mind focused on training, no doubt hoping that his performance in St.-Georges, Que. this week will match — or better yet, exceed — his 2nd place finish in 2013.
“It’s been going pretty well,” Anderson told Canadian Cycling Magazine, looking back over the season’s highlights thus far. Most recently, Anderson returned from Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he rode for Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies in Stage 4 of the North Star Grand Prix. Winning the stage, with teammate Jesse Anthony taking third — and the team itself winning overall — the 27-year-old competitor is feeling the drive and energy return after an injury two and a half months ago, and feels ready to take on this year’s field of Elite men’s racers.
“It’s been good for me, because it’s like getting back into the race rhythm,” Anderson said, “so coming into the Nationals, I feel good enough.” During his recovery, Anderson stayed close to home in North Vancouver, focused on his training. “It’s the first time I’ve broken a bone during a racing season,” he said, looking back, “so it was kind of a new experience for me.”
Adapting to such experiences, though, is part of the cyclist’s forte. Originally from Spruce Grove, Alta., Anderson is accustomed to hard terrain and even harder challenges on a bike, even from an early age. It’s an experience, he says, that has shaped the all-rounder’s strength. “I got my start riding in Alberta, which built the foundation,” he said, “and since then I’ve had some good opportunities to race on some other really nice teams and in a lot of big races, so that’s all been a part of me progressing.”
Going into the Nationals, though, it’s all about leveraging his team’s strength as it puts its best riders forward.
“I think the Nationals is a unique race,” Anderson said. “Just being at the Nationals — a one-day race — a lot of things can happen. I expect it will be a pretty aggressive race as usual, so I think, as a team, just having the best numbers at the front will be the best strategy for us.” In terms of the field of racers involved, Anderson is anticipating a strong, competitive race this week, no matter who is in attendance. “There’s a couple of guys who maybe aren’t coming back from Europe,” he said, “but apart from that, I think it’s going to be a really good field. Silber has a big team. I think it’s going to be a really good year.”
With this year’s Tour of Alberta bookending the season, Anderson is equally optimistic about the rest of the competitive calendar for 2015. “Next I’ll do the UCI Delta road race,” he said, “and then the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix. Then I go up to Colorado to start my altitude preparation for the U.S. Pro Challenge, which kind of feeds into the Tour of Alberta.” With a Jasper stage of the competition that’s anticipated to be more gruelling than previous years, Anderson nonetheless retains the confidence with which he prepares for the National Championships in Quebec.
“I know all that area pretty well, so this year is definitely a lot more challenging in terms of elevation gain,” Anderson said. “The course they chose this year [for the Tour of Alberta] is really good, so it’ll be a nice race.”