Will Routley wins third Tour de White Rock Home Realty Hillclimb

~ Canadian Olympic favorite Laura Brown win’s women’s race in a Local Ride Racing sweep

 Will Routley is back from Europe to race BC Superweek and a familiar spot at the historic Tour de White Rock: Atop the podium at the Homelife Realty Hillclimb.

It’s a familiar spot for the Whistler native, who won the leg-numbing 700-meter ascent up a 16 per cent grade from White Rock beach in 2007 and again last summer. That experience helps, said Routley, but it doesn’t make it easier. 

“Every time I do it, it feels like the hardest thing I’ve ever done it in my life,” said Routley, in his first season racing for the Team SpiderTech powered by c10, the Steve Bauer-founded team with the goal of competing at the Tour de France.  

“It’s pretty painful. It’s just a savage hill and you go as hard as you can possibly go. You better have the legs because there is no faking it. There’s no way to get up there unless you suffer and you have the legs, it’s as simple as that.” 

Routley and the rest of the finalists have to go up twice. Riders make the lung-melting ascent race against the clock two at a time the first time, and the top-5 get to – or have to, maybe? — do it again in a drag race for the podium. 

Hamilton went up with Routley in the first heat too, which he said helped a lot this year. Because last year Hamilton was the fastest up in the time trial, but had nothing left for the second sprint, settling instead for second place.  

“This year was a lot different because I was a lot more confident in myself and in Will’s ability to pace it,” said Hamilton, who finished just behind Routley both times up, posting the fastest times in the original heat at 1:45. “Last year I went as hard as I could the first round and was done, cooked for the second time. This year I kind of held back on the first round and had a little more gas left.” 

Sebastian Salas from Team H&R BLOCK finished third, followed by Bailey McKnight of Trek Red Truck, who was coming off a second place finish at the Giro di Burnaby criterium Thursday night. Cameron McKinnon, who won the Giro for H&R BLOCK, was fifth, followed by Colrer Young, who had the misfortune of making the final heat after being one of the last riders up in the first heat. 

“It’s never easy,” Routley said. 

Ironically Routley was riding for Jelly Belly Pro Cycling presented by Kanda last season. Hamilton was racing for the local Trek Red Truck amateur squad last year, but moved up to the Jelly Belly team after Routley moved on. 

That he moved on to SpiderTech and his first spring season racing in Europe, where he finished second at the 206-kilometer Tro Bro Leon race in France in mid-April, meant Routley came home with a target on his back. But the 2010 Canadian Road Race champion — he was second to SpiderTech teammate and Olympian Svein Tuft this summer — wasn’t going to give up his title easily.  

“Nic definitely wanted some redemption because he posted the fastest time last year the first time around so he was pushing it pretty hard the second time up,” he said. “It still means a lot to me. You race all over the world and some are big, international profile, and some are local and some are in between — like this is still high profile for a local race. You have a target on your back. Everybody wants to win and if they beat me it maybe makes it more valuable because I’ve won it before and I’ve won bigger races so they are gunning for you.” 

In the women’s race, it was a case of the Local Ride Racing/Dr. Vie Superfoods+ team gunning for a Trek Red Truck squad that was dominating BC Superweek. 

The result was a clean sweep of the podium at Friday’s Hillclimb. 

Laura Brown, a three-time World Cup medalist and 2012 Canadian Olympic favorite on the track, was the fastest up both times. The 25-year-old Calgary native ripped up the hill in two minutes, 18.62 seconds the first time, then narrowly clipped teammate Jasmine Glaesser, 19, in a photo finish. 

“I train for 3 kilometers (on the track), which is 3:20, and this is 2:18 so it feels like the same efforts, from standstill maximum effort,” Brown said. “So for me this is something I can do well at, so just go for it. We all just decided to go for it.” 

Brown was just happy to get a break before they had to go for it a second time. In the past, the women have raced the final heat before the men do their initial run, a schedule that left one national-level Australian cyclist in need of medical attention a couple years ago. This time the women’s final went after the men finished their initial heat, which also gave the men a little more recovery time. 

“Oh my goodness that was nice,” Borwn said. “Because it takes about 20 to 30 minutes to cool down and flush the lactic acid out of your legs, so to get a proper cool down, take a moment and get ready to go again was really nice.” 

Local Ride teammate Jenny Lehmann, who was second to Trek Red Truck’s Julia Garnet in Thursday’s Giro di Burnaby, finished just behind in third. Megan Rathwell of Glotman Simpson Cycling was fourth, and Trek Red Truck’s Kristine Brynjolfson finished fifth, the first time Red Truck didn’t make a podium. 

“Local Ride Racing is so strong, but we’ve just had some troubles tactically,” said Brown. “We weren’t sprinting to the best of our abilities with the timing of sprints and tactics. But clearly this is test of strength and we dominated. Tour de White Rock is a bloody hard race, so hopefully it’s more of a feat of strength now and we will dominate and it’s going to be a big weekend for us.” 

The 32nd Tour de White Rock continues with the Choice’s Market Criterium on Saturday, and concludes the historic Peace Arch News Road Race on Sunday, which is also the final of eight races in the $65,000 BC Superweek series.