Sometimes his wife would take Fred and his sister Lottie, and the four-year-old Fred would ride around Dulwich Park on a banana bike, which had to bend over to steer, and was fitted with very heavy equipment, or of a racer ‘, really heavy but with very little equipment. He used to speed up while his father sorted clients with their hires.A few years later, Phil took Fred to a Good Friday reunion at the Herne Hill Velodrome to watch Bradley Wiggins.
“He wasn’t really interested,” Phil said. “He started mountain biking, came slowly to the trail, but because I think we always biked as a family to get around, I think by the time he hit the trail he was still pretty good of the word goes. “
“Good” turned out to be an understatement. Last year, Fred Wright moved to the WorldTour choosing the road over the track, joining the Bahrain-McLaren team led by Rod Ellingworth, his first season marred by the coronavirus pandemic. He made his first appearances on the biggest Classic races and also on a Grand Tour, the shortened Vuelta a España. His second season saw him line up for his debut Tour de France as the youngest rider in the race.
“I think he was about ten or eleven, or probably less,” Phil says of the first time his son expressed interest in becoming a pro. “He said to me, ‘Dad, has there ever been a top cyclist whose father sucks?’ So I guess he thought about it then and probably ruled it out because I was never good. “
His father believes that Fred’s first national title (U14 in the Open) probably changed his mind, after seeing his father participate in triathlons “away from the front”, then when father and son started to line up. in Track League. in Herne Hill, and Fred started beating him, maybe that was also when he started to believe.
“That’s what really makes me… I guess it’s a little emotional about it,” said Fred before leaving for Brest, choking on the phone. “I think of all the people at Herne Hill who have helped me. I know my dad is gonna hook up he told me he was gonna watch him in the [velodrome] pavilion every day so it’s pretty cool. “
There is a photo in the hallway of the family’s Wright watching the Tour cross Kent in 2007. Second from right is a young Fred. Phil put it on Instagram and Fred then shared it on his account. His Bahrain-Victorious teammate Marcel Sieberg then told him he was part of the peloton that day, a fact that reminded the 39-year-old German of the time.
I was at Wright’s first run for Bahrain-McLaren in Saudi Arabia, just before the coronavirus pandemic hit Europe. The circus of being on a WorldTour team was still very new for the 20-year-old. You would see him walk through the hotel lobby, making sure he was following his roommate Mark Cavendish as they went to drop off their laundry.
A year later you can see that he has gotten used to the way things are done, knows how to behave like a pro and also runs like one. However, he always wears his heart on his sleeve and retains a fan’s giddiness when you ask him about classics and big laps he has raced before – there is no stone-faced pro. to find here!
After spending a sit-down lockdown in front of computer games in Manchester, with his roommates Ethan Hayter from Ineos and Matt Walls from Bora-Hansgrohe, he pulled off his first nearly three-week stage race at the Vuelta, finishing fourth in ‘a sprint in the last week and then his first introduction to the Classics was revealing, learning that it’s not just about strength (which he certainly has) but things that fall in the right place for you on the right day .
Before the start of his first round, the 22-year-old is, quite simply, “very excited”.
This was written in pencil in his schedule at the start of the year, a slow realization that he would line up for the world’s greatest bike race. But when he got the call, madness ensued.
“When he came out it was like, ‘Oh my god he’s going to the Tour de France!’ Which is just crazy, ”says Phil.
“I don’t really know what to expect from a lot of things, it’s going to be a little crazy I think,” adds Fred.
Crazy turned out to be exactly the right word.
“I’m still very worried in the sprints,” said Phil, watching his son run. “And on the downhills, because I’m a trash descender, but I think my wife worries more because she’s never been in a group in the races. “
The family have grown used to watching their son appear on TV over the past year, however, and have already practiced receiving the horrific call saying he had an accident, picking up Fred at the airport with a broken nose and scar on his head after going through a wall in Switzerland while racing with the U23s.
“I still can’t believe how he does it,” adds Phil. “It amazes me to see him in those sprints and to talk to him about what happens in a sprint, at the highest level it’s mind-blowing, the competitiveness of it, all these guys competing for space.
“Knowing them like babies and then seeing them with that bravery. It’s just, it’s crazy. Something I just couldn’t do. “
At the start of stages, most of the riders meander around the buses, taking a quick peek at the mixed zone in case the media needs it. If anyone was measuring the top speed of cyclists heading towards the connection, Fred Wright probably has it. Slipping through, his arousal palpable.
At the end of the first week, he stops to chat, stoned by the onslaught of the first week’s accidents.
“I was involved in the accident where Geraint fell,” reveals Fred. “It was a little unexpected, I just went to the back of Jack and hit the bridge. It was a little crazy. Not like anything I’ve done before but it’s so much fun, really enjoyed it, but obviously that day on stage three we lost Jack [Haig] was really disgusting. “
Text messages sent from home, with added emphasis on the usual ‘stay safe’ reminder. “I try as much as I can [to stay safe], I also have a job to do! Was the answer.
“The TT [on stage five] I really enjoyed it, ”says Wright. “I was just sort of sailing. I’ve never done a time trial before where there are fans everywhere.
“My visor kind of came off and it was raining so I didn’t really want it and a guy sent me a message like ‘I have your visor’, someone had just picked it up from the edge of the road. A nice little souvenir for them. “
With their overall hope Jack Haig on an early return flight, Bahrain-Victorious reset their goals, taking three stage wins thanks to Dylan Teuns and Matej Mohorič.
In the stage 20 time trial, Wright finished in a very respectable 15th place, less than two minutes behind stage winner Wout van Aert.
“I’m actually pretty happy, I thought you know what, the first Tour de France… I just gave it my all. I wasn’t looking at the vineyards in this time trial, I was looking at my Garmin screen. “
The picturesque surroundings of Bordeaux can wait, Wright is busy announcing himself to the cycling world at large.
“I might not be surprised but I’m just happy that I can… I thought maybe I would come here and get my head kicked and I had to survive, but the fact that you said I had had an impact on the [whole] the race is beautiful ”, he said ITV Daniel Friebe.
His roommate, Matej Mohorič, found himself at the center of a minor storm when he celebrated his second stage victory in the race with a finger to his lips, silencing skeptics after the Bahrain-Victorious hotel was raided by French police earlier than week.
“I made the mistake of looking on Twitter and saying ‘oh, that’s not very nice’,” Wright said.
He and his teammates had been subjected to searches of their bus and belongings, an intimidating prospect for any runner, let alone the youngest of the race making his debut.
“It was stressful, my emotions were going up and down a bit, but in the end, if they have to do it, they have to do it, the team gave them everything and we have nothing to do. hide. “
Well, it wouldn’t be quite the full Tour de France experience without some sort of meeting with the French police now, right.
After this penultimate time trial, Wright’s first Tour de France was practically in the bag.
“Although Paris is not as easy as you think,” he warned. “I spoke to Stefan Küng yesterday, he said during his first Tour de France that he had only taken two freezes in the last stage and he regretted it. I’m going to refuel with a burger and fries tonight and should be fine tomorrow.
“I really enjoyed it,” he continued. “I’m almost sad it’s over to some extent. My body is completely finished now but it was such a good experience. Coming home, I’m going to be like what I’m doing for the next two weeks, life is going to get a little boring, but it can only be when we’ve done the Tour de France. “
Wright’s first Tour seems to have emboldened him, shown him that he can probably take on anything he wants in the sport, that the greatest race in the world is not too big for him.
“I see myself winning a stage in the future, looking at how the races and the breakaways went, I kind of see myself doing what Matej [Mohorič] did over the next few years, ”he says. “There’s a lot to learn from the timing of his attack and he’s so aerodynamic on the bike. It was so nice to share a room with him and see him go through the process of winning a stage. “
Wright says his mind has often wandered through thoughts of home, of everyone at the Herne Hill velodrome, as he cycled around France for the past three weeks.
“He loves and appreciates the whole scene. It’s such an interesting world to experience, ”says Phil. “I think he realizes that he is a real kid from the Herne Hill community. “
But first, before Great Britain invites its last rider to conquer the Grand Tour de France, an evening in Paris is essential.
“A big party, I think,” Wright says of his plans after exiting the Champs-Élysées, after stepping onto the podium on the first attempt thanks to Bahrain-Victorious winning the team standings. “I’m going to get nice and drunk.” I haven’t had any… I don’t think it’s going to take much, a sip now and I’ll be done. “
Drink it, Fred Wright, for this tour looks like the first of what will ultimately be a wine cellar filled with vintages.