Having found a new comfort level riding over in Europe, Whistler’s Will Routley continued his great start to the 2012 cycling season last week by hanging on for a top-10 finish in general classification at the Presidential Tour of Turkey.
Routley finished 10th overall for his Team Spidertech-C10 in the eight-stage race that wrapped up in Istanbul on Sunday (April 29).
Now in his second season with the UCI Pro Continental team, the 28-year-old said he was thrilled with his strong showing in Turkey.
“I would say this race is certainly up there in terms of performances for me,” Routley said in a Tuesday (May 1) email to The Question. “I typically ride for single stage results and don’t often focus on the overall GC, but this week, to ride a top 10 on the overall at a race of that level, I am very pleased with it.”
Routley had moved into the UCI Europe Tour event’s overall top 10 by placing 10th in the third stage, which featured a difficult mountain climb late in the course where the Whistler native was able to drop most of the field.
Routley was able to maintain that 10th-place standing over the next five days by riding safely within the peloton, as the stages ended in bunch sprints on those days.
Other Team Spidertech riders worked hard to help preserve Routley’s top-10 result in Sunday’s 121-kilometre stage, as he received great support from teammates Pat McCarty, Hugo Houle and Simon Lambert-Lemay on the final day of racing.
“The boys were really awesome today,” Routley said in a Sunday release. “They really rallied around me to keep me safe and protected all day. I’ve never been able to ride that comfortable in a large group inside the final 20 km before the finish line.”
Ivailo Gabrovski of team Konya Torku Seker Spor was the Tour of Turkey winner, finishing three minutes, 14 seconds ahead of Routley.
Steve Bauer, the legendary former Canadian pro who is co-founder and owner of Team Spidertech, was very enthusiastic about Routley’s result.
“The summit finish on the third stage was tough — it doesn’t get much harder,” Bauer said in Sunday’s release. “For Will to ride top 10 in that stage and then go on to defend his position for five more days is a real turning point for our program.”
Routley’s finish in Turkey comes on the heels of some impressive stage results at races in Europe earlier this season. He hit the podium in third during the opening stage of Spain’s Vuelta a Andalucia race in February, then finished fifth in the first stage of Italy’s Coppi e Bartali event in March.
Routley told The Question that his spring series of races have been a “big step” over last year now that he’s more accustomed to riding in Europe.
“I am feeling much more comfortable in the Euro peloton. (My) fitness has been really great this season so far, but I’m also handling the environment better,” he said. “Racing in Europe can be dangerous, you have to fight to maintain the right position in the pack, know where on the course to use energy and where to conserve, and I am having a much better time of this with the experience gained over last year.
“I have had a few notable results this spring, the only thing I am still waiting for is a win. But it’s a team sport and I was able to play a big role in a teammate’s victory, so all in all it’s been a great spring campaign.”
Routley dealt with injury setbacks in the last half of the 2011 season and said he’s back to 100 per cent, though it took eight months after a crash in July for his hand to feel normal again. He’ll spend a good portion of May at home in Whistler before going back to Europe for races in Luxembourg and Switzerland in advance of the Canadian Championships in Quebec.
“I think that after a good block of rest and training in Whistler, I’ll be ready to perform well,” he said.