South London’s Fred Wright enjoying superb debut in Tour de France – South London News

South London’s Fred Wright enjoying superb debut in Tour de France – South London News

There will be plenty of proud onlookers at Herne Hill Cycling Club this week as one of their own enjoys the week of his life in the biggest bike race of them all.

Fred Wright is not a name that resonates – yet – with those who follow professional road racing from afar, even if it already does at his track cycling club.

He has quite a way to go to reach the level of fame which Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas have all garnered with ground-breaking Tour de France wins in GB colours.

Even Thomas Pidcock is better known as he makes his way in the Ineos Grenadiers team which evolved from the previously all-conquering Sky team graced by that trio.

But the 23-year-old South Londoner is making waves, for sure, and proving to be a fast learner in the toughest and most glamorous of all the big grand tours. And it is his debut in the race too.

His parents, Phil and Becca, travelled to watch him at the start of this year’s edition, which began in Denmark and were on their way home when they had to pull over on the motorway to watch the end of Saturday’s stage in which their boy found himself as race leader. With 8km to go he was out on his own with a 30 second lead.

He was eventually swallowed up by the sprinters 3km from home and Jumbo-Visma’s brilliant Belgian finisher, Wout van Aert, but will have taken immense heart from that stage eight into Lausanne and learnt much about what is required to ultimately take a stage victory.

No flash in the pan, Wright repeated the front-running on Tuesday’s stage 10, finishing ninth, just 22 seconds behind the winner Magnus Cort at Megeve.

In this one, he stayed in contention until the last 500m, covering breaks at the front of the race and dealing superbly with the demands of a 21km climb – much of it towards the end of the 148km run.

To put his effort in perspective, he finished more than eight minutes ahead of the peloton, which included yellow jersey rider and reigning champion, UAE’s Tadej Pogacar.

Wright only turned pro two years ago, but is now in a Team Bahrain Victorious team ranked sixth best in the world.

He is in the squad as a ‘puncheur’ which means he is equipped with blistering acceleration and makes it count on short, steep gradients.

He has the staying power to stick with the climbers and just has to find that extra kick to challenge the sprinters when stages reach their finale.

It spoke volumes that he was so disappointed after a brilliant race that he faded out of the medals. But he is also wise enough to know he has what it takes to be involved in the business end of long days in the saddle.

“I’m gutted, to be honest, because I suddenly thought this was going to be the day, but I just didn’t have any legs left,” he said after the stage.

“I’m not known for my climbing ability so I just thought I would be better to just float, be in front and try and ride at my own tempo.

“In the end it wasn’t to be but I tried my best. There are plenty more days. The legs are good.”

Soon, it will not be just the Herne Hill club keeping a close eye on his progress.

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