Will Routley Interview: European win targeted after move to Accent Jobs team
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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Will Routley Interview: European win targeted after move to Accent Jobs team

by Ed Hood at 10:04 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
 
Former SpiderTech C10 rider speaks about team’s end, Canadian cycling and racing clean

Will routleyOne of unpleasant surprises at the end of 2012 season was the demise of the Canadian SpiderTech C10 team.

The squad, managed by former Tour de France yellow jersey Steve Bauer, had World Tour ambitions but decided to halt its operation and return in 2014 with more funding.

Fortunately, the trend of the riders being left high and dry in such circumstances was bucked and the team went to great lengths to place their roster.

One of the more surprising moves was former Canadian Elite Road Race Champion Will Routley’s signing with Belgian Pro Continental team, Accent Jobs-Wanty. It ensures that the rider who finished third on a stage of the Vuelta a Andalucia and ninth overall in the Presidential Tour of Turkey will have further opportunities in 2013.

Routley’s pro career began with Canadian team Symmetrics in 2005 where he rode alongside riders like Svein Tuft and Christian Meier.

Routley spent four seasons there, taking domestic wins and a top ten on GC in Australia’s Herald Sun Tour – and rather bizarrely, two wins in the team time trial stage of the Vuelta a El Salvador.

For 2009 and 2010 he rode for US team, Jelly Belly with stage wins coming in the Delta Tour and Redlands.

He also pulled on the maple leaf jersey of Canadian Elite Road Race Champion in 2010 and rode a broad Asian programme with starts in China, Korea and Malaysia.

Joining the SpiderTech C10 programme for 2011 his most notable results were runner up spots in the Tro Bro Leon and in the Canadian Road Race Championship to Svein Tuft.

For 2012 there was a solid European programme, riding races like Pino Cerami, the Scheldeprijs and De Panne before taking a top 10 on GC in the Presidential Tour of Turkey.

In November, Routley has been making headlines with his ‘no messing’ comments that riders actually do have a choice when it comes to doping. “When I hear the interviews and the dopers say things like: “I crossed the line,” I am disgusted,” he wrote in the Vancouver Sun. “Several American guys caught this month all said the same thing about crossing a line.

“As far as I’m concerned, ‘crossing the line’ is when you swear in public. When you defraud a nation, steal from sponsors, and your fellow racing compatriots and then lie to the world about it, you didn’t ‘cross a line,’ you are a criminal.”

The 29 year-old from Whistler took time to talk to VeloNation about this subject and other matters as he settled in to his new home in Girona, Spain.

VeloNation: Was it a surprise when SpiderTech pulled out and did you get adequate notice, Will?

Will Routley: The news of team SpiderTech ceasing to race in 2013 hit most of us by surprise. It came very late in the year and was certainly a tough blow.

A couple of tough weeks followed with guys scrambling; but we have been lucky that the owner of SpiderTech decided to honour the rider's contracts and is contributing to all of our new teams.

This made things possible for 18 riders to suddenly move on.

VN: How did you get the Accent ride - do you have an agent to assist?

WR: After spending the last two spring seasons in Europe I had some team interest out there. We also had a whole campaign working on placing guys on teams.

Steve Bauer, Kevin Field and European agent Andrew McQuaid all made a lot of calls, Kevin was particularly tireless in this respect and those efforts are much appreciated.

VN: Where will you be based in Belgium?

WR: In the last week I flew to Belgium did the requisite medical testing for the UCI, bounced down to Girona and established an apartment here, and am off to southern Spain tomorrow for my first team training camp with Accent Jobs Wanty.

I'll spend January & February in Girona, then head up to Belgium late February after my first race. From there we plan to spend the season in Kortrijk. I'm here with my fiancée Shoshauna; she’s also racing for a Belgian women's team.

It is practical to be based up north, as so many of my races will be within driving distance, and it just makes life easier.

Kortrijk is in the West Flanders region and a short ride to most of the famous bergs you'll see in the cobbled classics, it's really the heart of cycling and a lot of fun to be there.

VN: Have you bought the Vlaams-English dictionary, yet?

WR: No dictionary yet, but we have some Flemish friends and I can say; ‘hello,’ ‘thank you,’ ‘beer,’ ‘frites’, and one swear word.

I’m off to a good start.

VN: How's the programme looking and what's the first race?

WR: Our race program looks excellent. This was one of the draws to Accent Jobs. I will discuss it further with my director at camp this week, but my first race is likely to be Vuelta Andalucía in Spain.

I had a podium on the first stage there last year, so think it would be a great start, and it also gives me a little time to train here in Europe beforehand. After that I have a busy calendar with many high points, the Ardennes Classics - the Strade Bianchi is going to be a lot of fun and there’s a good mix of French stage races that suit my strengths.

I think it will be a really good schedule for me.

VN: Do you have much experience of Belgian racing?

WR: I have some - I have only raced in Europe the past two seasons, and really only a solid spring campaign. I have gotten some decent Belgian races.

My first go round was a solid DNF. It was pretty overwhelming when you fear for your life in the neutral roll out before the race even starts.

But I've learned a lot in a short while and have been pretty comfortable getting in to breakaways and mixing it up in Belgium this past season.

I'm certainly going to learn a heck of a lot more this year, but I now feel confident I can be effective up there. It's also a lot of fun just being in the atmosphere of a Belgian bike race, to say the people love it is an enormous understatement!

VN: What have you been doing training-wise over the winter?

WR: This winter has been busy. I've had a lot of projects on the go off the bike, but on the bike training was really good.

During November and the first two weeks of December, I had a six week block in there with a little more volume than in years past and I think it has set me up well.

Christmas time is always so busy, and this year we had to move out of our place, put everything into storage, and then headed up to visit family in Whistler.

I got out for two ski touring days, this winter, first time on skis in years and felt like I hadn't missed a beat - that was a lot of fun. I'm also in the gym a couple times a week as always - I really believe in this as an important part of my winter training.

VN: Tell us about your time with Symmetrics, please?

WR: In short, Symmetrics was great. It was a real formative time for the majority of us. I learned how to road race there, made friendships that will last a lifetime and went on some great adventures.

I can't say enough positive things about that time; we really developed a culture and identity that was special in the sport. And there was no shortage of laughs!

VN: And how was Jelly Belly?

WR: Jelly Belly was another great experience for me. The guys made me feel at home right out of the blocks. This team is where I really came into my own as a racer.

I did my biggest race schedule there, again, went on incredible trips to Asia, and discovered how much I like it there. I had a lot of opportunity with Jelly Belly and it is where I became a "pro."

The team is so well known in the USA, handing out candy to hordes of kids at race starts was fun and we won a boatload of races together. The second year there in particular, we won a lot of races.

And it really felt like each win was shared amongst the whole team. I have been so lucky to have these great experiences.

VN: Your most recent team was SpiderTech. How was that?

WR: Another positive. SpiderTech is the team that brought me over to Europe, and that had been my goal, and also my latest adventure.

It was exciting being part of a Canadian squad making the jump overseas, and I think we've helped show a lot of young Canadians back home that they can indeed aspire to race at this level, we are doing it and it makes things seem more real.

VN: Tro Bro 2011, you were second - any 'what might have been' there?

WR: Ha! There are always ways we can second guess ourselves. Ultimately it was a great ride, it was our first podium finish in Europe and a breakthrough for me and for the team. I was uber strong that day but royally fudged up the sprint.

Looking back I learned a lesson, but I have a great memory from that race, and fortunately there will be more to come.

VN: You were top ten on GC in the Tour of Turkey in 2012 – that’s an encouraging ride.

WR: Turkey was great, to stay in the top ten all week meant I certainly had to be consistent. It’s a really tough race there, the weather, the roads, I did it the year before and if you are not on form it is a struggle to just finish.

It was another step where I realized I can under the right circumstances ride for GC over a stage race, but doing so means a lot of pressure!

VN: Do you think we will see SpiderTech back in 2014?

WR: Only time will tell, but I don't think anything has changed in terms of peoples’ desire to see a Canadian team at the Tour de France.

VN: How big a sport is cycling in Canada?

WR: I think it's getting bigger all the time. Grand Fondos are popping up, which great to see. The only downside is on the racing front; we are doing better internationally than ever before, but I would like to see more events at home for national level racers to develop themselves.

This is happening with BC Superweek, and the new Tour of Alberta, and I really hope this trend continues. We are seeing more mainstream media coverage all the time, so I think it's a good time for a Canadian to be involved in cycling.

VN: Have you had much reaction to your strident remarks about dopers?

WR: The article I wrote received a massive response. I was truly overwhelmed. The great thing was how positive the remarks were. I think I was venting a frustration shared by so many, and in the next few years this won't be so novel, this will be the norm.

VN: Were you aware of riders being 'kitted' back when you first started?

WR: It’s not something I spent a ton of time focusing on, but as soon as I started racing, I heard stories of doping. It is a shame that these two things went hand in hand.

To this day I have never seen anything first hand. I've seen guys doing inhuman things, and guys getting suspended, but I've personally been surrounded by so many guys that are 100% committed to staying clean.

VN: Do you think things have improved drugs-wise in the seven years you've been a pro?

WR: Yes I do. Things are not perfect, but things are drastically improved. I think this trend is continuing, and that is why I feel good about encouraging the next generation.

VN: What's on the 'to do' list for 2013?

WR: To win a race in Europe! Podiums are nice, but it's time to win. Also, I'm going to enjoy my first crack at the Ardennes classics.

I'll talk to my sport director this week and zero in on some more specific goals, but there are a good handful of races on the calendar that I have eyes toward. And of course, I want my maple leaf jersey back!

Then when fall comes around I'll be getting married, so needless to say it's going to be an amazing year.

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