Fred Wright anticipating tough battle in elite men's road race at World Championships

Luke Rowe on racing Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert: 'If you wait and try to race them man on man in the final, I think you’re just waiting with a loaded gun to your head'

Fred Wright
(Image credit: Getty Images)

British national road champion Fred Wright has played down his and Team GB’s chances against the likes of Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert in the elite men’s road race at the Glasgow World Championships on Sunday.

Wright and Ben Turner have been highlighted as the team’s two protected riders in the road race, but Tom Pidcock’s absence from the British team leaves them without a serious contender against some of the outright favourites to take the rainbow jersey.

Speaking to the media on Thursday afternoon in Scotland, both Wright and Rowe suggested that the British squad will look to “get ahead” of the likes of the Dutch and Belgian teams in order to enable them to seize any potential opportunity when the Glasgow city centre circuit arrives.

“Me, Conor [Swift] and Ben Turner are going to be the guys that we’re looking to potentially get in the pre-final move,” Wright said. “I think in our team we haven’t necessarily got one of the superstars like your Van Aert’s or your Van der Poel’s but we’ve definitely got guys that can do something if we get ahead of those other guys so that when they come to us it’s a bit more of a level playing field.”

Belgium and the Netherlands arrive in Scotland as two of the strongest teams for the road race. As well as Van Aert, the Belgian squad contains last year’s winner Remco Evenepoel as well as the Tour de France green jersey winner Jasper Philipsen.

Wright suggested that the belief isn’t lacking in the GB camp despite their underdog status and that they will look to force the Belgian’s to chase a lot of early moves in an attempt to weaken them as the finale approaches.

As well as Wright, the British squad contains Luke Rowe, Ben and Conor Swift, Jake Stewart, Sam Watson, Ben Turner and Owain Doull.

Rowe told the media that Pidcock’s presence could have potentially made them stronger, but he said he has every faith in his teammates to be at the sharp end of the action on Sunday.

“I think it’s no secret that we’re going into the race as slight underdogs,” Rowe explained. “I think we’re missing a few riders which would put us more up there as a favourite. We could have had Tom [Pidcock] or Ethan [Hayter] here but I’d argue that it wouldn’t add a great deal and I’m confident in the boys we’ve got here.

“I think it’s obvious that there’s four or five guys out there who are on a bit of another level compared to the rest of the peloton really. If you wait and try to race them man on man in the final, I think you’re just waiting with a loaded gun to your head aren’t you really and you’re going to come off second best.

“I think the only way to counteract that is to get ahead of the race but at the same time, there’s probably 100 other blokes thinking the same. What will be said on most buses is try and get ahead of them and let them come across to you.”

"The way he races shows he just wants to light things up"

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Tom Thewlis

Tom has been writing for Cycling Weekly since 2022 and his news stories, rider interviews and features appear both online and in the magazine. 

Since joining the team, he has reported from some of professional cycling's biggest races and events including the Tour de France and the World Championships in Glasgow. He has also covered races elsewhere across the world. 

As well as on the ground reporting, Tom writes race reports from the men's and women's WorldTour and helps with coverage of UK domestic cycling.