Fred Wright has predicted that there will be another British winner of the men’s road world championships in the next decade as a new golden generation emerges.
While Great Britain has produced four different women’s world champions along the way, Mark Cavendish was only the second British man to win the rainbow jersey with his 2011 victory in Copenhagen, 46 years after Tom Simpson’s triumph.
Belgian Wout Van Aert, Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel and Slovenian Tadej Pogacar are the favorites for Sunday’s race in Wollongong, but it has already been a good week for Great Britain in Australia, highlighted by the junior time trial titles won by Zoe Backstedt and Josh Tarling.
Tom Pidcock would have been among the favorites for the men’s road race, but the Olympic mountain bike champion and Tour de France stage winner ended his season early when the grueling efforts of two years caught up with him.
But Wright, who will compete in a team that also includes emerging talents Ethan Hayter, Jake Stewart, Ben Tulett and Ben Turner, sees a bright future as Britain looks for riders who can follow in the footsteps of Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Geraint. Thomas. – who between them won six Tours in seven years.
“There are so many young British professionals coming through, more than ever, and British cycling is in a very good place, it’s only going to get better from here,” said the 23-year-old.
“The guys I was racing junior with, Tom, Jake, Ethan, we were all good teammates, we all want to see each other succeed. I don’t know if it’s going to happen on Sunday, we really want it to be. But at some point we’re going to have a British world champion in the next few years.”
Riding for Bahrain-Victorious, Wright learned a lot in 2022, riding in back-to-back Grand Tours for the first time in his career when he rode the Tour de France and Vuelta a España.
He was a regular presence in breakaways in both, with a series of near misses as he searched for his first stage win. But he admitted that the workload had taken its toll: he didn’t even want to look at his bike while he spent a few days at his parents’ house in London between the Tour and the flight to Australia.
Although Wright lit up the Vuelta with attacking runs that also saw him finish second in the points standings, he famously finished the race for other reasons after a video posted by Jumbo-Visma showed two-time overall winner Primoz Roglic blaming Wright for an accident that ended the Slovenian’s career.
Roglic’s claims caused consternation: Few who watched the crash could identify anything Wright did wrong while contesting a final sprint, but while Wright admitted that Roglic’s accusations affected him at the time, he is now happy to dismiss it as another experience. Learning.
“It was a pretty sleepless night at the time,” Wright said. “I got a lot of messages, 98 per cent were all positive, but I still had a stage I was trying to win so there was a lot going on.
“Since then, there have been a lot of memes saying it’s my fault for random things. Yesterday I saw one with Annemiek van Vleuten crashing (in the mixed team time trial) and someone had photoshopped me in the background.
“It was weird. It was quite unexpected for them. I’ve come across similar situations, but the most important thing is that every guy in the group the next day was like, ‘I hope you’re okay, that was really weird.’
“It was easy to deal with because immediately it was, ‘Why did they come out and say this?’”