Tony Routley: Forgoing World Championships for GranFondo

Team Whistler manager confident in Sept. 10 squad

Team Whistler manager and rider Tony Routley will be missing out on a couple of other big cycling events to take part in the GranFondo Whistler on Sept. 10.

First, Routley won his age group at the GranFondo New York earlier this year to gain entry into the UCI Amateur Cycling World Championships, but they'll be taking place in Belgium on the same day as the GranFondo Whistler.

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"I went and qualified for nothing," laughed Routley.

Meanwhile, Routley's son, Will, will be in action for the UCI Pro Tour events held in Quebec City and Montreal with his Team Spidertech crew on the same weekend, but the elder Routley won't be on hand to watch those, either.

"Everything's just the same darn weekend," he laughed. "But it's definitely going to be good and a lot of fun here, and it worked out with some work things as well, I suppose, and that kind of convinced me that it would be better to stay close to home.

"And, we're going to win."

In fact, Routley traveled to watch his son compete in the same Pro Tour events last year and missed the inaugural GranFondo Whistler, meaning he'll be making his debut in the race from Vancouver to Whistler in less than two week's time.

But as mentioned, Routley did do the GranFondo New York back in May and said it was a phenomenal experience.

"That was really cool," he said. "Starting on the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River and it was a great ride, really neat. It was an experience, no doubt, and the kind of experience I got going to New York is probably the same kind of experience people coming to Whistler and riding our highway here must have."

At 55, Routley is the oldest member of Team Whistler's GranFondo squad, but he also comes with some of the most impressive accomplishments. He won a gold medal at the 2005 World Masters Games and a silver at the UCI Mountain Bike Masters World Championships in 2006. He's also been on national championship podiums multiple times and can always be found near the top of the leaderboard in mountain bike races in the corridor.

"The gold at (World Masters Games) and that UCI race are definitely the ones that stand out," said Routley when asked to pick out some career highlights.

But for Routley, it's also been exciting to watch his son grow into one of the country's top road bike racers as well. Will Routley has earned gold and silver medals from the last two Canadian Road Race Championships, while Team Spidertech has aspirations of becoming the first Canadian team to race the Tour de France.

"His potential hasn't peaked yet and that's exciting, and exciting for him," he said. "The experiences of training with him, beating him and then him beating me while he was still younger - that whole progression - has been a lot of fun and it's really cool to do it with your kid.

"Especially when they still want to do it with you," he added with a laugh.

Routley said he feels Team Whistler has a strong group of riders in place to gun for top spot in the mixed team competition.

"Some of them don't have much road race experience riding in a peloton but I think that's what you find with a lot of people in the Fondo period," he said. "Everybody is a racer and they're going to catch on real quick."

Tony's favourite training ride: "One of my favourites now is going south on the highway because of the improvements. Mid-week as opposed to the weekend - there's a lot less traffic and it's a great ride."

Tony's race tip: "Be aware of the people around you. Remember that there are people behind you when you're moving around in your group - don't make sharp movements left or right. Shoulder check."

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