European junior mountain biking title for Norfolk cyclist Sophie Wright
Horsford teenager Sophie Wright has become the junior women’s European cross-country mountain biking champion.
The 17-year-old Hellesdon High School sixth-form student was competing over a 17.3km on Huskvarna Mountain in Sweden at the 2016 UEC Mountain Bike European Championships.
Wright, who is part of British Cycling’s Olympic Junior Academy and targeting a place as part of Team GB at Tokyo 2020, took the lead on the first lap and built up an advantage of over three minutes over the four-lap course.
She crossed the line in one hour, eight minutes and 14 seconds to secure the gold medal, grabbing a Union Jack flag as she pedalled towards the finish line to celebrate in style, finishing three minutes and three seconds clear of France’s Helene Clauzel.
After becoming Great Britain’s first European junior women’s mountain biking champion, Wright said: “It was great and also a relief that the race had gone so perfectly, that we’d had no issues or mechanical issues – everything was perfect.
“I saw my coach at the end and to step up on the podium it felt so good to be on the top step, and then they played the national anthem as well, so it was perfect.”
The success continues Wright’s rapid progress, having become 2015 national mountain bike youth champion and 2016 national cyclo-cross champion. She also finished third in round one of the UCI Junior MTB Series in Switzerland in April.
“My start wasn’t the best, I was probably 20th out of about 40, but across the first 200 metres I worked up to seventh or eighth.
“Then as soon as we reached the first main climb I could see there was a big gap to the French girl in front but I managed to get past her and took on the race from there and increased my lead as much as I could.”
Next up for Wright is the National Road Race Championships in Lincolnshire this weekend, followed by the third round of the UCI Junior MTB Series, in Albstadt in southern Germany.
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