The hopes of Great Britain taking home a men’s rainbow jersey on home roads – the first since Mark Cavendish’s triumph in Copenhagen in 2011 – came to an end 95km from the finish in Glasgow as Fred Wright pulled out of the race.
The 24-year-old, fresh from the Tour de France and his first pro win with the national title in June, climbed off with six-and-a-half laps to go on the challenging, technical city circuit after dropping from the elite lead group of contenders.
His abandon effectively spelt the end of the home nation’s chances of a rainbow jersey or medal at the 271km Road World Championships, with ‘Plan B’ after Jake Stewart’s earlier puncture.
Speaking to Cyclingnews shortly after stopping, Wright said that he was disappointed to DNF, speculating that he might be feeling fatigued after the Tour, which finished just two weeks ago.
“On the circuit, I was there and then I wasn’t,” Wright said. “There’s not much more to say, to be honest.
I don’t know whether it’s a bit of fatigue from the Tour – I think I need to go home and get in bed, to be honest. I’m disappointed but it is what it is. We all committed to it and it’s a shame to be back here so early.
“It’s a shame, it’s a real shame,” he concluded.
Wright had been the leader of a British squad which had placed Owain Doull in the break of the day, the Welshman later caught as the favourites pushed the pace inside the final 75km.
While the racing drama kicked off on the hilly circuit, earlier in the day the race had seen an hour’s stoppage after protesters from climate action group ‘This is Rigged’ blocked the road 192km from the line.
Racing resumed with time gaps reinstated. Wright, whose Great Britain team bears the sponsor logos of the Shell oil and gas corporation cited by the protesters, called the protest “strange” and noted that it was tough to restart racing afterwards.
“The protest was strange,” he said. “It’s not what we expected to be stopped there. The restart wasn’t nice but it was [the same] for everyone.”
Eventually, after the long stoppage and ride from Edinburgh to Glasgow, Wright and the rest of the peloton hit the closing 14.3km circuit, one which features numerous climbs and rises and almost 50 corners and which has come under some criticism from riders.
French leader Benoît Cosnefroy was among the loudest critics, saying that “the person who designed this course has problems”. Wright was a little more diplomatic, though he did call the course “maybe a bit too crazy” for the…