The European Youth Olympics
The European Youth Olympics
By Fred Wright
Fred Wright tells us about the European Youth Olympics time trial and road race
Handsling Bikes sponsor GB Junior Squad rider and National U16 Champion, Fred Wright, who has sent us the first of an irregular blog about his racing exploits. Fred takes up the story…
What an eventful past few weeks. It kicked off when I won my first race on the new bike in the E12s at the Crystal Palace Tuesday night Crit, having been in a break for practically the whole race. The bike felt perfect to race on and it was a promising result considering in the same week I flew off to Tbilisi, Georgia to take part in the European Youth Olympics.
At one stage I didn’t think I would be able to ride the Handsling Bikes RR1 in Tbilisi as the seat stays wouldn’t fit the Under 16 restricted cassette which I have to use, on which the smallest sprocket is a 16, which meant the chain rubbed on a seatstay designed for an 11 or 12. Thankfully Surrey Carbon Bike Repair in Dorking managed to sort out the problem quickly and effectively by adapting the seat stays so everything was smooth – and it was good to see how impressed they were with the build quality of the frame.
So I went to the European Youth Olympics with the new Handsling very carefully packed in a bike box. The scale of the opening ceremony on the Sunday following our arrival left me shocked as I hadn’t quite anticipated how big the event was. It was certainly a proud moment walking into the stadium being part of Team GB.
With the races on the Tuesday and Thursday I had plenty of time to ride the RR1 around the stunning lake (nicknamed the ‘Tbilisi Sea’) where the road race would take place. My position felt really comfortable which was great considering there were no time trial bikes or aero equipment allowed for the 9.8km time trial which came first on the Tuesday. The TT was possibly the hardest thing I had ever done. Tbilisi was at its hottest at that point of the year and the 36 degrees played a major part in how hard the race was. The course was very simple, out and back on a flat road so it was pretty much all out from the start. It felt really tough straight away and it didn’t help that the Danish rider who started in front of me eventually won it by 18 seconds so I didn’t have anyone to really chase. I was surprised and chuffed to get 6th in the TT, only 3 seconds off a medal.
With an easy day on the Wednesday to look at the road race course one last time, I wasn’t feeling bad in the legs and was ready for what would be the biggest race I had ever done. On race day it was even hotter than the TT; 38 degrees. This meant that our 3 rider team would have to get bottles after each of the three 25km laps. I felt really good and was ready to race on my new bike. It was pretty sketchy in the bunch on the first lap, so I got into an early break which soon got caught, halfway round. The Danish rider (who won the TT) countered and got a good gap pretty quickly, and my team mates, Harry Hardcastle and Tom Pidcock, and I struggled to get the bunch together to chase him down.
I successfully got a bottle after a lap and then moved up to the front. I attacked with five others and we got away to chase down the Dane, managing to catch him on the bell, up the last climb. The hills felt much worse the last time round, and I was starting to really feel it. We were joined by a few others and the small break eventually turned into a large attack group with half a lap to go.
I was really at the limit but Tom was with me and he did plenty of work to make sure we weren’t going to get caught, so I could just sit in and rest for the sprint. Tom gave me a good lead out and put me in a great position for the final 500m climb. I was slightly boxed but as the Danish rider dropped back I squeezed out and sprinted for the line. A Swiss rider was too far ahead and I didn’t quite get round a Slovakian but managed to hold on for bronze.
I couldn’t believe it; what a result and what a great way to end an amazing week on the new bike.
Following what was a terrific experience in Tbilisi I went straight to Manchester Velodrome for the U16 National Track Finals. I couldn’t do the points race because we came back late on the Monday from Tbilisi but I still had another great week. I got a PB in the 2k pursuit qualifier and then again in the final, which gave me second place (first place went to a National record). I then managed to get a silver in the scratch race the following day. Finally, in the 500m TT I got another PB and came 4th, less than a tenth of a second away from another medal.
My new RR1 proved very handy in what were definitely the best two weeks of racing I have ever had. Thanks Handsling.
Fred Wright rides for Velo Club Londres and is supported by SportsAid.
Handsling Bikes are proud to support Fred.