Sophie Wright relishes her moment in the spotlight in European Championship road race
- Credit: PA
For 80 kilometres on the roads of Glasgow, Norfolk cycling star Sophie Wright was all alone with nothing but her bike and a smile on her face.
For in those 50 miles – five laps of the gruelling three-and-a-half-hour circuit – the 19-year-old was defying age and all those around her to lead the European Championship road race.
With each lap that passed the cheers got louder from a raucous crowd, Wright responding in kind to push her body to the limits and then some in her bid for European gold.
It wasn't to come, swallowed up by a peloton glittered with Olympic, world and Commonwealth champions, but for this former Hellesdon High School pupil victory of a different kind came in Scotland.
'It was a bit of a slog on my own but the support was amazing around the course,' said the teenager.
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'I absolutely love it, this is one of the best road races I've ever done. Cycling is my passion, I just love it and when you've got random strangers shouting your name, it was just incredible.
'For it to be broadcast live is just incredible, the whole thing was just brilliant. I was going up hills smiling.'
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More than 100km in the race passed before Wright crossed a checkpoint isolated from the lead group, her final position of 57th far from doing justice to a brave, gutsy effort in a race eventually won by Italy's Marta Bastianelli.
But when you've come back from two heart surgeries and a broken shoulder blade before reaching 20, bouncing back is just part of the psyche.
'I'm not used to road racing that after so I get a bit nervous in the peloton, I knew there was going to be some carnage so for me I'm almost doing more work at the back,' Wright added.
'It's brilliant to have this opportunity, next year I want to be on the road and hopefully I can join a team and really progress that.'
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