Fred Wright is relaxed and enjoying his time in Australia now he’s got used to the time difference at the road World Championships.
In a press conference looking ahead to the elite men's road race on Sunday in Wollongong, Wright explained that he's particularly enjoyed setting eyes on wildlife that you wouldn't normally see on the streets of London.
“We’ve had a good laugh on the training rides here, everyone’s been shouting as much as possible every time we see a kangaroo and that’s happened three times,” Wright said.
After a summer of going close to a maiden grand tour stage win at the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, the British rider now has a shot at arguably the biggest prize of the lot, the hallowed rainbow jersey of the road world champion. Wright explained that with all eyes on the pre-race favourites Belgian Wout Van Aert and two-time Tour de France Champion Tadej Pogačar it could provide an opportunity for him to do something special.
He said: “I think we’ve got a lot of strength in this team and I think we will look at trying to use it whilst the others are looking at each other. That’s kind of the plan. I’ve been in races with them like that stage in the Tour de France where Wout [Van Aert] absolutely ripped it up, so I don’t know if I’ll be able to follow him.
“A pre-emptive move or something like that is what I’ll be looking to try and do. Wout is the out and out favourite for a course like this, he’s shown in all the races he’s done this year that he’s so strong. It’s almost a bit in our favour that we’re the underdogs though.”
When asked if he is fully aware of the history and prestige of the rainbow jersey, Wright admitted that as well as pulling on the jersey held by France’s Julian Alaphilippe for the past two years he has his eyes on a new bike painted in the same colours to go along with the new kit that would come with a victory.
“Everyone dreams of those rainbow bands and being able to wear them the following year. I just think about the nice bike you would then have, in the nice colours and then in the following years would be up on the wall in your house,” he added.
As well as discussing his own chances, Wright was quick to point out that his teammate and UK housemate Ethan Hayter is looking to be firmly in contention in the sharp end of proceedings in Wollongong. The Londoner also highlighted the new generation of British talent coming through the system leaving British Cycling in a good place.
He said: “There’s definitely a new generation coming through with us all. You know it’s a shame Tom [Pidcock] couldn’t be here too but me and Ethan [Hayter] plan on having a really good crack on Sunday. There’s so many new pro’s coming through now and it just puts British Cycling in a really good place. I think it’s only going to get better too.”
Just a few weeks prior to flying to Australia, Wright was involved in an innocuous looking racing incident at the Vuelta a España which resulted in Primož Roglič crashing out of the Spanish Grand Tour.
The Slovenian and his team Jumbo-Visma later publicly blamed Wright for the crash. Wright explained that initially the incident played on his mind although the outpouring of positivity from the wider cycling community has helped him to put a positive spin on the situation.
“At the time I had a pretty sleepless night. Although after that 98% of the messages I received were really positive which was nice,” he said.
He added: “Since then I’ve seen a few memes and stuff saying it’s my fault for random things which are quite funny. I saw that yesterday with the crash with Annemiek van Vleuten someone had photoshopped me in the background which was funny.
“Most importantly all the guys in the bunch the day after were coming up to me and saying ‘I hope you’re alright mate? That was really really odd from them’ which just made it easier to deal with.”
The ever-smiling Wright concluded that when he next sees Roglič he’s sure that they’ll have a conversation and move on from the situation.
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