The youngest rider in the 2021 Tour de France, Fred Wright got his third week off to an impressive start as the 22-year-old made it into the break of the day to support Bahrain Victorious teammate Sonny Colbrelli.
Wright was not planning to get in the move, he later told Cyclingnews. But once there he put his shoulder to the wheel to give the reigning Italian national champion as much support as possible.
Colbrelli was already fully engaged in a ding-dong battle with fellow green jersey contender Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) when Wright bridged across.
The British rider fell back on the hardest climb of the day, the Col de Core, when David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) upped the pace in the leading break. But he then returned to the break again on the downhill for another spell of work for Colbrelli, before getting definitively dropped on the Portet d’Aspet.
“It was a really hard day out, it was clear the break wasn’t going to go over the top of the first climb [the Col de Port],” Wright told Cyclingnews. “They really went hard over the top of that and I was actually quite surprised to be in the mix, they were really attacking each other.
“It came back together a bit on the downhill and then Sonny went for it with Matthews to get the intermediate and I just followed a couple of guys and ended up the road as well.
“There was a big gap and that was it. It’s a shame we didn’t win the stage but it was a hard day out for sure.”
Once there, Wright said given the power of Colbrelli’s performances at the moment, his role was to keep the pace going and help the Italian where he could.
“I just lost contact over the first climb [the Col du Core - Ed] but I got back and kept working and then in the last one I blew my doors. I hoped that Sonny could get across to [stage winner Patrick] Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe) but unfortunately it wasn’t to be, 'cause the gap was close at one point. But it wasn’t like we were riding easy behind, it was full gas all the way.”
This is not the first time that Wright has managed to get into the action in a Grand Tour third week. His debut participation in the Vuelta a España last autumn was highlighted by a fourth place at the end of the 230-kilometre stage 17 to Puebla de Sanabria.
“I guess it’s kind of weird to be a young rider in that position but to be honest I don’t think it’s a legs thing, my mind is feeling fresh,” he reflected. “I’m not super mentally fatigued. My body’s destroyed but it doesn’t seem to have got much worse after about day six.
“It’s just day to day, maybe a good day, maybe a bad day, but overall I haven’t really got that much worse legs-wise. It’s just keep on hurting yourself, you know?” he said with a wry laugh.
Pain barriers notwithstanding, Wright says he’s delighted that he could make it into a break in his first Tour de France.
“It’s great. I always thought I’d quite like to get in a break and help the team out a bit if I could, tick that box. So I sort of enjoyed it today. It was good to be there, but still pretty hard!”
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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