Whistler's Will Routley and Vancouver's Ryan Anderson will return from Europe to compete in B.C. Superweek.
Part of the first Canadian team to race at the prestigious Tour de Suisse, the B.C. duo is hoping to bring another teammate from Steve Bauer's Spidertech powered by C10 team to the Lower Mainland.
Tour de Suisse is considered the biggest race outside the three Grand Tours (Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta d'Espana).
Routley is in the midst of a second season racing professionally in Europe that already includes an impressive top-10 finish at the Presidential Tour of Turkey, but thinks they will need even more help at B.C. Superweek.
That's because this is expected to be the strongest field in history, impressive for an event with a long history of Olympians and top professionals with Grand Tour experience.
"We're hoping to bring another great sprinter and have solid a B.C.
Superweek," Routley said. "With me and Ryan, one of us could win the race, but there still will be a big team that will be able to cover every break the whole race, so if it comes down to a sprint finish, it would be nice to have one more good sprinter."
Who that might be still has to be determined. Spidertech C10 teammate Zach Bell has a long history at B.C. Superweek, but this year's race may be too close to the London Olympics, where Bell should be a medal favourite on the track.
Routley said there is always a collection of top North American professionals riding at B.C. Superweek, but expects more to come with bigger teams now, especially with the return of the Gastown Grand Prix.
With Canadian cycling in the world spotlight because of Ryder Hesjedal's historic win at the Giro d'Italia, Routley believes the sport is at an all-time high in Canada.
There were three other Canadians competing at the Giro d'Italia - Svein Tuft, Christian Meier and Dominique Rollin. All three have competed at B.C. Superweek in recent years and, like Routley, Tuft and Meier developed at the local races.
Routley said when he switched from mountain bikes to road racing 10 years ago there was only one Canadian - Michael Barry - racing in Europe. Now he's part of an entire team over there, with the hopes Spidertech C-10 will be competing on Grand Tours as a mostly Canadian squad within the next couple of years.
"I think Canadian cycling is the best it's ever been." Routley said. "Ryder has become a superstar but we have a whole host of guys on the way up. So it's not like a novelty of someone winning a Grand Tour and that's the end of it. This is just the beginning. We have a lot more depth and with the number of guys over here setting an example, we'll keep going. It's totally unprecedented."
Routley pointed to B.C. Superweek as playing a key role. For local riders, it's the best chance to test themselves against top professionals. Anderson, who won the inaugural MK Delta Criterium in North Delta last year, was also the overall winner in 2009 when he won the Ladner criterium.
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