There might not be a win just yet, but Fred Wright can feel one coming. The Bahrain-Victorious rider was up there among the best at Paris-Nice, finishing in the top-10 twice in the opening three stages and impressed in the time trial too, coming 13th.
“I can see it happening hopefully, I don't know when, I don't know where but I'm always going to be pushing,” the 22-year old told Cycling Weekly in a rainy Nice at the end of the eight-day stage race.
Wright finished eighth on the first stage after Jumbo-Visma performed their coup and took the podium away from everyone else; in effect, he was fourth in the sprint behind Mads Pedersen of Trek-Segafredo. On stage three, Wright was again behind the Dane as he won in Dun-le-Palestel, but he was one of the punchier riders who survived on a testing course as other sprinters did not make the finish.
On the stage four time trial, Wright came 13th, ahead of established time triallists like Luke Durbridge and Dylan van Baarle; it was in fact his best time trial result at WorldTour level.
“I'm really happy with the legs, we've got Jack [Haig] up here on GC (he finished sixth overall), but I've been given my own chances, especially since Sonny [Colbrelli] was out at the start of the race,” the Londoner explained.
“It has been a good week and I'm really happy,” Wright explained. “It has been hard racing all the time, but I've been happy to be up there. The gap is smaller than it has been in the past, I can see it happening hopefully, I don't know when, I don't know where but I'm always going to be pushing.
“I'm settling myself into the team well and I know where I might be given opportunities, especially with the Classics coming up there's so much racing. I'm looking forward to it.”
Next, he will ride Milan-San Remo at the weekend, where he will one of the options Bahrain-Victorious have alongside Matej Mohorič and Sonny Colbrelli, if he recovers from illness.
Wright raced the Monument last year as well, but feels in better shape for it this time around.
“I'm now going to do San Remo next weekend, I wasn't originally going to do it,” he said “I did it last year but it was almost too much with the amount of racing at the start of the season, but actually this year I'm happy with where I'm at and I'm not too tired, and I think it should be good.”
On this form, he might find a way to win sooner rather than later. One other thing he has on his side is luck, being one of the resolute 59 who finished the race in Nice. His team was down to just three riders before the end, and the mass abandonments meant Wright actually ended up finishing 30th overall.
“I was rooming with Gino Mäder and he got the same illness everyone else has got, luckily I seem to have been alright,” he said. “I'm obviously going to have to take it super easy after this race because it has been hard. I think maybe I'm just one of the lucky ones to be honest.
“Maybe the third of the guys that aren't here are just unlucky. Fingers crossed I'll avoid all covid and whatever else this bug is that's going round.”
Ahead of the final stage, Wright was just focusing on keeping warm and staying upright, which was easier said than done on a torrid day on the Côte d’Azur.
“Staying warm today, that's the priority,” he told Cycling Weekly. “It's going to be easy enough to stay warm on the climbs, but I don't know about when I eventually get dropped and ride into the finish. And stay upright too.”
Fortunately, he managed to finish, coming in just six minutes behind Simon Yates, the stage winner. Now, he will head onto the Classics and hopefully a win that might come soon.
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