Fred Wright, the eternal optimist for the breakaway mindset

Nice guys don't always finish last. Sometimes they get themselves into the breakaway at the Tour de France.

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Tour de France bike riders aren’t just Tour de France bike riders. They exist within a spectrum of humanity and even through the narrow confines of having to be a) male and b) usually between the ages of 21-40. But within that there are individuals with personalities (for the most part). Funny guys, boring guys, mean guys, nice guys.

Fred Wright is one of the nice guys.

The Tour de France mixed zone isn’t the most comfortable or calming of places yet Fred Wright is ebullient almost every morning, whether he’s stopping to answer a few questions, always with a sunny disposition, or zipping through back to the team buses while his more experienced colleagues field enquiries from the media.

This being his second Tour de France, Fred Wright knows how everything works by now. Last year in his debut Tour he quickly found his feet, enjoying every pedal stroke to Paris.

This year he arrived once again in the services of Jack Haig but with maybe the chance of riding for himself at his sophomore Tour. He also willingly and candidly spoke to the press about the swirl of anti-doping raids hovering around his Bahrain-Victorious team. At the age of just 23, and especially after an impressive seventh at the Tour of Flanders this spring, he’s standing on his own two feet, back straight, in the Tour de France peloton.

When Jack Haig unfortunately crashed out for the second year in a row all members of the Bahrain-Victorious squad were freed once again to ride for their own chances. For Fred Wright the next step in his Tour de France education was a day in the break.

“I had kind of already looked at this stage as the day to kind of have a go,” Fred Wright said after the finish, having been part of the breakaway trio from Dole to Lausanne. “In my head you get psyched up for it and I was like ‘okay, I’m going to try and get in the break’.

“Then you follow moves, you get there but then you realise there’s only three of you. I was a bit gutted. But once you’re there you’re there. It was a long day out but I enjoyed it.

“I thought ‘well, I’ve made my bed I’m going to lie in it and commit to this’,” Wright continued. “We played it quite well, we relaxed at one point and then proper drilled it to get more time. I kept believing but it wasn’t to be, I was happy I lasted until the foot of the climb. I thought get there and then see what happens.”

What happened was the Brit was the last man out on the road, swept up in the final few kilometres about halfway up the finishing climb. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to win the combativity prize for the day, but not even that slight disappointment could bring him down.

“I think they must have decided, or what I’ve been told anyway, is they decided around when Cattaneo gave up. I’m a bit disappointed with that to be honest. I thought going until the last 5km I would have had the red numbers but what can you do, it was still a good day.”

A Tour de France breakaway appearance is obviously unlike others. Wright remarked on the fans who pour out of every village and town to watch the race pass by, as well as the fact it was less painful to get caught a few kilometres out rather than after the flamme rouge, within touching distance of victory. His appetite whetted, Wright is already looking on to the next one.

“That finish I’m not going to beat Van Aert from the bunch, but from a breakaway I fancy my chances on a day like today. It just wasn’t quite big enough,” his confidence clearly growing.

“I can’t describe it, I don’t think it’s sunk in. It’s pretty special to be honest, there’ll be more breakaways and more opportunities.

“And there are a lot of us here who want to take opportunities. We obviously have Damiano [Caruso] for the GC but have me and plenty of other guys to have a crack of trying to get a stage win.”

With the likes of Matej Mohorič, Dylan Teuns and Jan Tratnik, it’s a decent bet we’ll see a Bahrain-Victorious breakaway win this Tour. Fred Wright will just be hoping it’s him.

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