'Just don't wreck yourself' - Fred Wright on his GB track gamble and the Olympics

The Bahrain Victorious rider is set to compete at the European Track Championships next week

Fred Wright and Ethan Hayter during Ghent Six
(Image credit: Getty)

Fred Wright is a track rider at heart. 

As a child, he'd ride down to his local velodrome in Herne Hill, London and race around the concrete banking with his friends. It turned out he had a real knack for it. Then the road came calling, and he was whisked away by the romantic promise of Grand Tours and Classics.

Next week, though, Wright’s going back to his roots. He’s been selected by British Cycling to compete at the European Track Championships, in what will be his first major competition with the national squad since 2019. 

How’s he feeling about it? “A little bit nervous to see how the track legs are going to be,” he says, "but that’s kind of the whole reason I’m doing it. I guess it’s to see how I can combine them both [road and track], not just doing the training, but in a racing scenario.” 

For Wright, the championships are a “test”, a chance to prove to himself and his team, Bahrain Victorious, that he can juggle different racing disciplines and still perform at his best. 

“Speaking to my coach [at Bahrain], it basically works well,” he says. “They’re happy for me to crack on with it as long as I don’t break myself. Touch wood.

“The sports directors for the Classics, the one thing they said was it seems like a good thing to be doing, for the speed and everything, but just don’t wreck yourself.” 

Although he hasn’t raced with GB for over three years, Wright’s certainly not out of practice. Before Christmas, the 23-year-old travelled to Ghent, Belgium, to take part in a six-day track cycling event with close friend and compatriot Ethan Hayter. Next week, he's now down to ride the Elimination race and the Madison, alongside team pursuit world champion Ollie Wood, in Grenchen, Switzerland. 

Fred Wright riding in a velodrome

(Image credit: Getty)

“I’m definitely stronger,” he says, recalling his earlier GB call-ups. “I didn’t quite have the legs back then. I think what I was missing then I definitely have now, which is plenty of Grand Tours in the legs, that fitness.”

Still, he insists, the pressure’s off. Wright’s plan for the European Championships is to enjoy himself, but he’ll do so with one eye on next summer’s Olympics in Paris. 

“That’s something I’m going to push for,” he says. “This opportunity has reignited that ambition to be at an Olympics and also be going for a medal. I guess maybe it’s always been there.

“Going to the Olympics was an ambition of mine since I started properly getting into cycling, and the way things have gone haven’t led to that. Now I’m in a position where there’s a possibility of that.”

For the squad in Paris, GB endurance coach Ben Greenwood will be able to select four riders, and borrow a fifth from another discipline, such as road or mountain biking. This is where Wright could slot in. His hope is to ride the road race and the Madison. "That’s sort of what I’m aiming for,” he says. 

Before that, though, he’ll have to prove that he’s strong enough. He’ll be up against many of the world’s best track talents at the European Championships, giving him the perfect opportunity to show his level and tactical awareness on the boards.  

“It all seems to be falling into place quite nicely,” Wright says, “but I won’t know until I’m 150 laps in how much of a good decision it was. Maybe I’ll regret everything.” 

He smiles, before nonchalantly adding: “If it goes tits up, I’ve got plenty of road races to look forward to.” 

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Tom Davidson
News and Features Writer

Tom joined Cycling Weekly as a news and features writer in the summer of 2022, having previously contributed as a freelancer. He is the host of The TT Podcast, which covers both the men's and women's pelotons and has featured a number of prominent British riders. 

An enthusiastic cyclist himself, Tom likes it most when the road goes uphill and actively seeks out double-figure gradients on his rides. 

He's also fluent in French and Spanish and holds a master's degree in International Journalism.