After a busy month of May for Rally pro cyclist and Canadian native Rob Britton, the start of June has been the time for gearing up for the local Tour de Beauce starting this week.
The longest running stage race in North America is entering it’s 33rd year and even though it’s only five stages long, compared to the recently completed Amgen Tour of California’s seven, Britton is convinced it’s actually a more difficult race.
“The course instigates a bit of an aggressive style,” he said in an interview last week. “Everyone’s really fit coming into the race with national championships right around the corner and only seven-man teams allowed.”
For the race’s queen stage, the peloton ascends the iconic Mont-Mégantic, just across the U.S. border and approximately 10 miles north of Maine. The short, but punchy 3.7 mile climb averages 18% gradient and is the highest paved road in the Province of Québec.
Rally’s season has been one for the history books, becoming the first Continental team to win not just one World Tour stage, but two.
“Success at all the races have been incredible so far, from the Tour of the Gila to the Tour of California, any roster we put out gives us a great shot to win all types of stages and multiple jerseys,” Britton said after a 75-mile morning ride out of his adopted home of Calgary, Alberta.
Britton took a rest week following the Tour of California, riding only 167-miles, but has been ramping it up the past couple weeks in hopes of continued success on home soil.
After securing sixth in the mountains classification at the Volta ao Alentejo in Portugal during the end of February, he went on to win that classification at the Tour of the Gila and followed it up with not only his second place on stage four at the Tour of California, but 4th overall in the race for the polka dots.
He’s looking for more in Quebec starting on Wednesday, hoping to deliver his first stage win of the season.
What does he attribute the early season and consistent success to for the Rally squad?
“The classic iron sharpens iron, where one guy gets hot and everyone just feeds off his positive energy and success.”
Britton mentions the youth and vigor that new riders like with Matteo Dal Cin, Colin Joyce and Sepp Kuss have brought to the team. “Those three guys have been instrumental to each of the race successes we’ve had this year.”
Incorporating Topical EDGE into his routine has been a bonus that he believes can’t be overlooked as well.
After using it for the first time in January during winter camp, he brought some to Hawaii to try during his own training, but wasn’t convinced he saw any difference in his performance during hard workouts.
However, after coming back to the team’s second camp at the end of January, he was blown away during the big rides the team was tackling. “I started to see some of my best threshold power numbers ever,” he said.
Britton knows using Topical EDGE isn’t a replacement for hard work building up to a big season, but it's an advantage he's enjoying in 2017. “I’m not going to be 30% faster across the board, but as far as the little things I can do, it’s become a part of my daily routine, before and after rides.”
It’s after the hard, long days in the breakaway, like the ones Britton found himself in during the Tour of California, that he and his Rally teammates appreciate the lactate buffering Topical EDGE provides.
“A week long stage race is really intense, so my routine each day is a massage at night followed by one pack of Topical EDGE on my legs before bed and then another pack the morning prior to the stage start."
Known for his climbing ability and aggressive racing style, having fresh legs day after day is vital for his success. “If I’m looking for that early break, an hour or more of sprinting or attacking off the front is incredibly intense. Having that buffer provided by Topical EDGE definitely helps me.”
Success Britton's had so far this season and hopes he and his Rally teammates carry into the Tour de Beauce starting this Wednesday.