Fred Wright was exhausted but delighted after finishing seventh at the Tour of Flanders.
The Bahrain-Victorious rider attacked with Ineos Grenadier’s Dylan van Baarle with 48km to go, and the duo were eventually joined by race winner Mathieu van der Poel, Tadej Pogačar and Groupama-FDJ’s Valentin Madouas.
Although Van der Poel and Pogačar later counterattacked and Wright was unable to respond, the 22-year-old rode to an impressive seventh, the joint second-best result by a Briton in the men’s race this century. Indeed, it has only been bettered by Luke Rowe’s fifth in 2016.
A visibly emotional Wright joked to the press afterwards that “I can’t really speak; I’m so tired. I think I need some food.” But the Londoner did explain his day out front in the first cobbled Monument of the season.
“Oh, man, that’s just an elimination race,” he said. “I was knew I was happy following Dylan after the first Paterberg, and I knew being ahead for the Koppenberg and Taaienberg was going to help because obviously Mathieu and Tadej are better than me on the climbs.
“For them to then come across and be in the front group of five, I was super, super-happy. But I was on my knees. I was really trying to do as little as possible. I think they all knew I was knackered.
“I thought I would come around a little bit, but as soon as Tadej started riding on the Kwaremont, I had to ride at my own pace. It then just becomes a time trial.
“Man, that was the hardest race I’ve ever done, but it’s special being on the Kwaremont.”
>>> Tour of Flanders victor Mathieu van der Poel: ‘I think Pogačar was the best man in the race’
Wright, who is still waiting for his maiden professional victory, said that he was unable to respond to Pogačar’s acceleration on the Kwaremont. “I had to try my best to follow, but I could feel what my limits were,” he said. “I gave my best, and to be in the top-10, I’m f**king happy with that!
“I’m not going to lie, not one bit [did he think he’d get back to Pogačar and Van der Poel]. I said to Dylan [Teuns, team-mate] that he had to go. I was ticking down the kilometres. I swear that was the longest 10kms I’ve ever done, especially with the headwind. But I’m happy enough.”
Asked what the result means to him, he replied: “A f**king lot! Yeah, it’s good.”
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