10 minutes with Sophie Wright

Join Isla Rush in talking all things cycling with Women’s World Tour Rider Sophie Wright

Sophie Wright, Cervélo Bigla. Photo by Luc Claessen.

Sophie Wright has become somewhat of a household name amongst the UK racing scene over her cycling years. From her many successes and National MTB Champion title as a Youth, to becoming Junior European and National Mountain Bike Champion, and National Cyclocross Champion in 2016 as well as winning Bronze at the Junior European Road Race Championships, Sophie was always destined for great things. 

2017 was a year of ups and downs for Wright, beginning with undergoing two major heart operations, but she soon got back to winning ways just 12 days after the second procedure-winning a round of the National MTB Series. The rest of her 2017 season wasn’t any less dramatic, recovering from a broken shoulder blade to go on to come 8th at the Junior World MTB Championships and 12th at the Junior World Road Race Championships. Her formative years as a bike racer built her up for what was an incredible year on the bike in 2018.

Photo posted by @euromtbchamps2016

The start of this whirlwind year for Sophie was winning the Women’s Tour of the Reservoir, a gruelling round of the British National Road Racing Series in Edmundbyers; this was just a taste of what was to come. Wright also won her first Elite National Mountain Bike race, and went on to become the overall winner of the Women’s British National Road Racing Series in her first year as an under-23. This kind of talent is hard to ignore; Women’s World Tour team Cervelo-Bigla were quick to spot Wright, and she signed for them in July. From here Wright went on to represent Great Britain at the European Championships, where she had an incredible performance off the front of the race for 60km. Perhaps even more impressive, at the World Road Race Championships, Wright finished 3rd U23. 

Sophie winning at the Tour of the Reservoir 2018. Photo by Huw Williams.

I caught up with Sophie over FaceTime in November, at her home in Norwich, Norfolk. She told me her off season break was relaxing mentally and physically but is now enjoying being reunited with her bike and has got a clear plan with her coach of what’s to come. 

One of the first things I wanted to know was how is she finding her new life as a professional cyclist; it’s safe to say she’s loving it. Being on a Women’s World Tour team means she no longer has to worry about things she did before when riding for herself, as everything is planned- so she can fully focus on racing her bike. “Little things add up which create stresses that ultimately waste energy,” she tells me, which is why Cervelo Bigla wants to make sure they have everything covered for their riders. Sophie is a very laid back, calm person, so this approach to bike racing definitely suits her, as she can keep her cool leading up to race day.

Sophie with her team, Cervélo Bigla. Photo by Patrice Fouques.

Sophie was keen to tell me how she now spends her days as a full-time cyclist. She usually gets up whenever she wants she tells me, as “sleep really is key to recovery.” Then, she’ll foam roller and stretch a bit before breakfast, and prefers to train before lunch; this training is set out by her coach. She says during the last part of her ride, she’s “probably thinking about lunch.” Twice a week she has a massage, and she goes to the gym once a week during the winter where she focuses on strength and conditioning work. After she’s home from either a massage or the gym, she’ll eat dinner with her family, and plan her route for the following day’s training. The rest of her evening is filled with working on her online sport’s nutrition course, and spending time with her family. Sounds like the dream day!

We chatted some more about training and riding, and her face lit up when I asked her to tell me her favourite places to ride. “I love Mallorca, especially Port de Pollença, and the Eastern Alps in Austria.” However, “Norfolk is great for easy café rides,” of which Sophie and I have been on a fair few together. Going back to Mallorca, she tells me she plans to spend some of the winter there training, but will stay based in Norfolk for 2019. “For my first year as a pro, I don’t want to take too many changes,” she says, which is understandable as she’ll be racing at many prestigious events in 2019.

Sophie off the front of the race at the European Road Race Championships in Glasgow, 2018. Photo by Dario Belingheri.

To start her 2019 season, Wright hopes to complete in some Classics such as Strade Bianche, Gent-Wevelgem and La Flèche-Wallone. Her aims include winning the Young Rider’s Jersey in the Women’s World Tour, for which she’ll need to achieve high results in as many races as possible. Her other targets include the European and World Road Race Championships, not forgetting the National Road Race, which is a special race to Sophie as it starts and finishes in her home city, Norwich. Wright tells me she hopes the race visits the coast, where the majority of hills are in Norfolk, albeit few but testing, as this type of course would suit her the best. It’d be an incredible feeling to win the National Champion’s Jersey in your home city.

Photo uploaded to Facebook by Sophie Wright

Our conversation then visited the topic of coverage for women’s cycling. It’s commonly known that the women’s sport gets nowhere near as much TV time as the men’s, but many are working towards improving this to gain more exposure. Wright knows that in 2019 she’ll get a lot more coverage personally by racing in the Women’s World Tour compared to racing in the UK, and she believes women’s cycling is definitely heading in the right direction. “I think the road racing scene seems more ‘supportive’ than some of the other disciplines, as it’s generally more popular.” An example of this she gave was fans asking for autographs on a photo of her, and wanting selfies. It’s safe to say Wright definitely enjoys having the fans watching and supporting, which was seen at the World Championships where she rode along the finish straight thanking the crowd.

Looking towards 2019, Wright said she’s incredibly excited for the new season and her “experience with the team so far has been positive.” We chatted about her teammates, and when I posed her the question “which teammate would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?” she laughed and answered “Emma Norsgaard, as she’s the craziest Danish person I know!”

It’s safe to say Sophie has a really exciting 2019 season ahead of her.

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