'I'm going to right the mistakes I made in the Classics' - Fred Wright on big wins, Olympic dreams and finding balance

The British national champion on his maiden win and what this means for his 2024 season

It is easy to forget a professional cyclist's age when you watch them ride in prestigious Grand Tours like the Tour de France or huge Classics like Paris-Roubaix or the Tour of Flanders. They seem so much older than they are. Despite the impression of maturity on the bike, the reality is that the majority of the pro peloton are still in their twenties. Tadej Pogačar is 25, Jonas Vingegaard is 26, Remco Evenepoel is only 23, Demi Vollering is 27, and Lotte Kopceky is 28, and these are just those in the top rankings.

Most people their age are still finding their feet in life, working out which career path they’d like to go down, or heading to the other side of the world to learn more about the world we live in. Professional athletes, on the other hand, have remained unwaveringly dedicated to their chosen path since a young age. And while many pro cyclists get to see the world as they travel from race to race or head to warmer climates for training camps, cycling is front and centre. Eat, sleep, train, repeat. That is what it takes to become a pro cyclist – a dream they would have had from young age.

So, when I meet Bahrain-Victorious rider Fred Wright in person at Rouleur Live in London, I am reminded of his age – just 24. As he shares anecdotes about a recent stag do in Marrakech, Morocco, and some travelling he has been doing during his off-season with his girlfriend in Sri Lanka, it serves as a poignant reminder that, beyond the intense world of professional cycling, athletes like Wright are still navigating the experiences and joys of youth.

“It was one of the best months I’ve ever had with no cycling involved. We went to Sri Lanka and it was the sort of travelling I would have wanted to do when I was younger and wasn’t a cyclist,” he tells me, smiling, reflecting back on the memories made in South Asia. As he speaks, he comes across as confident and funny, not seeming to take life too seriously, just like most other 24-year-olds.

Despite his laid-back demeanour, Wright has been riding his bike since the age of four and has been a part of the WorldTour since 2020. Showing his dedication and passion for the sport, he quickly adds that he can't wait for the 2024 season to begin. “It’s only November, so I need to calm down,” he jokes. But Wright is looking forward to the upcoming season, in particular, because he’ll be wearing the British national champions jersey after winning the title in June this year – also securing his first professional win.

“It was amazing to win the National Championships,” Wright says about his maiden win. “It was nice to finally win, and then to add the national title was extra nice because it means when I feel really unfit and getting back into training, like now, I can put the jersey on and be reminded that I can do it. It’s a constant reminder every time you get on your bike, which is an added bonus to winning the nationals.”

He had the opportunity to wear the red, white and blue colours during his third Tour de France appearance and then during the opening stages of the Renewi Tour in Belgium. However, a crash on stage four from Beringen to Peer saw Wright with a broken collarbone, bringing his 2023 season to an abrupt end.

“It was a shame things ended the way it did because you go through peaks and stuff throughout the year, and I felt I was coming into one last hurrah at the end of the season, and I was really looking forward to racing in Canada. But there’s more time to do those races,” he says. And he is right – he still has two years left on his contract with Bahrain-Victorious and is showing more and more potential each year as a well-rounded, versatile rider.

However, a big win in Europe is what he is dreaming of, and having shown promise in the last two years, securing seventh and eighth at the Tour of Flanders, behind the likes of Pogačar, Mathieu van der Poel, Mads Pedersen and Wout van Aert, he is poised for a potential podium finish. “I can’t wait to right some of them, not necessarily wrongs, but the mistakes I felt I made in the Classics,” he expresses, eager to make his mark in the early season races.

The Classics are a big focus for Wright at the moment as he prepares for the 2024 season, he admits and adds that a strong season will also put him in a good position to get picked for the 2024 Paris Olympics – another goal he would like to target – but understands that it’ll be a difficult team to get on to with only four road racing places available.

It was reported earlier in the year when Wright was picked for the Elimination race and the Madison at the European Track Championships in February, that the 24-year-old rider might be eyeing up a potential Olympic track appearance also, a discipline the London-born rider grew up racing. But he states that he is “thinking about that less and less.” Choosing instead to focus on the road, he adds, “You almost have to focus on one thing, and I feel like doing track as well as road is like juggling too many balls. So, I am all in for the road racing.”

This sharpening in focus not only underscores his growth as a rider but also as a person. He's honing in on what he really wants from his career, steering toward the goals he's got lined up for the future. And isn't that what your twenties are all about? It's this mix of figuring things out, learning more about yourself, and aligning your focus with the dreams you want to chase.

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