'You've got to be super-strong': Fred Wright on training for the Classics

The 22-year-old Bahrain-Victorious rider reveals what works for him in training

Fred Wright at the Tour of Flanders 2022
(Image credit: Getty)

For each article in this long-running WATT WORKS FOR ME series from Cycling Weekly's print edition, we ask a pro rider about their favourite things in training: what has helped them most in getting to where they are today.  The aim is to get to the heart of the beliefs and preferences they hold dear when it comes to building form, maximising fitness and ultimately achieving results. For this edition, we speak to Fred Wright... 

You live near Manchester and share a house with Ethan Hayter and Matt Walls – a good training environment?

It was actually really good in lockdown, having others to train with who could push you on. I don’t think there were many riders who had that situation, so I was quite lucky really. For me, lockdown didn’t seem that bad – compared to some riders not even being allowed to go outside.

Your first race back post-lockdown was Strade Bianche (1 August 2020). How did it go?

To be honest, I was a little bit disappointed [to DNF], it being such a big race. I got a bit unlucky and then I just didn't have anything in the heat. I was cooked really early on, and that was me done for the day. My Garmin recorded 42ºC, and I’d never raced in that kind of heat before – being from the UK doesn’t help sometimes!

How did you get started in cycling?

It was just something my dad recommended for the summer holidays, to fill my time as a nine- or 10-year-old. I was pretty young, but just loved it straight away.

Tell us how

How to be a classics specialist? 

You've got to be super strong, that goes without saying, but it’s the knowledge of the courses that separates the good guys from the really top guys – the ones who know when to move up to the front before a key sector, using a bit of road they’ve learnt over the years. That’s just so important. 

Favourite session? 

Over lockdown, I’ve been doing quite a lot of SAP [sustained aerobic power], which is low Zone 3 work. It’s the pace you can do for a sustained period of time – a bit uncomfortable but a nice ‘pressing on’ pace. You can do it in any kind of ride: just put in a 40-minute section, say, where you ride kind of hard over any sort of terrain. It’s not super uncomfortable, so you feel good once you get into it.  

And when did you get more serious about it?

Around the age of 14 or 15, when I got selected for the [British Cycling] Talent Team. When all that started to happen, I was like, ‘Wow, I’m pretty good at this’. From then on, I stayed with British Cycling until last year [upon signing for CCC].

Who was most influential in shaping you as a rider?

Probably older youth riders – [in VC Londres] there was always someone I'd ride with and race against as mates, someone to keep trying to be better than. I was never the top guy, and I think that really helped, as I was always aspiring to be like that person who was a bit older than me. And now it’s me and Ethan [Hayter] and Jacob [Vaughan] who are inspiring the younger guys – it’s an ongoing cycle. Also, my first coach Stuart Blunt was a really important influence. His training was never very specific or super-structured – I didn’t have a power meter as a junior – as it was more about riding according to your own feelings, and that’s something I’ll always keep with me.

Quick-fire faves

Recovery day activity? 

An afternoon nap. 

Sport that isn’t cycling? 

Football. 

Post-ride food? 

Always fancy a bit of gnocchi.

Motivational music or film? 

Kanye West always delivers, and 300 is a good film to watch on the turbo – plenty of action.

Quality in a training partner? 

Good chat. Some would say, ‘Don’t half-wheel’, but if you’re getting half-wheeled because you’re not pushing on enough, it can be a good thing. 

Training product or accessory?

I always have my long pump in the frame of my training bike – just because it’s so much better than a little hand pump. 

Is that the way you still prefer to train?

I guess it depends; what with being in the [Bahrain-Victorious] setup now, there are times when you have to get your really specific hours done and ride to certain powers. But when I have a general ride to do, most of the time I do just ride it on feel – and if the watts are a bit higher than usual, then great, and if not, it doesn’t matter. It annoys me every time I get frustrated that I don’t have my Garmin – I have to remind myself that all I’ve got to do is ride my bike!

RIDER PROFILE: FRED WRIGHT

Age: 22

Height: 6ft 1in

Weight: 75kg

Lives: Manchester

Rides for: Bahrain-Victorious  

Best results: 7th – Tour of Flanders (2022)

1st – Stage 4, Tour de l'Avenir (2019) 

1st – Madison, UK National Track Champs (2019)

Twitter: @fred_wright0 (opens in new tab)

Instagram: fred.w (opens in new tab)

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