Covid and Brexit woes put pro-cyclist's Spain move on hold
- Credit: Sophie Wright
A pro-cyclist's plans to move to Spain have been put on hold as a combination of Covid and Brexit forced her to miss the first two races of her upcoming season.
Sophie Wright, from Horsford, originally moved to Spain after finishing her cyclo-cross season in Belgium at the beginning of January, to train in its steep hills while preparing for her role as a climber in a road race team.
Ms Wright said: "The training out there is just amazing, the weather is amazing and of course I had the mountains to train in, which here in Norfolk I just don't get.
"As a climber I do need to be training in the mountains in order to fulfil that role as best as possible."
After seeking advice on how to stay in Spain, she found the Brexit transition complicated matters and that she would have to return to the UK temporarily.
She added: "I just kept getting different answers from each person, but in order to apply for residency in Spain I would have to wait until June just to get an appointment and the new rule with Brexit means you can only have 90 days abroad.
"I'd already eaten into around 40 of those days trying to get my residency, so I had to get back [to the UK] as soon as possible and you can only apply for a visa in your own country."
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On her way back to the UK, Ms Wright was required to do a Covid test before setting sail for Dover.
But even that came with its complications - a test laboratory in Toulouse was opened especially for her, however she quickly got into trouble when she found after a visit to the toilet she had been locked in.
She said: "I just kept shouting 'pharmacie, pharmacie' to this woman who couldn't speak a word of English and eventually she came and freed me."
With rules for non-EU arrivals being stricter, Ms Wright has already had to drop out of her first two road races of the season in Italy due to the country's cycling federation deciding she must do 14 days of quarantine.
She said: "It's very disappointing that I've missed those races in March, but for the mean time I'm actually enjoying being back home, I think I've brought the sun with me to Norfolk."
Despite her disappointment Ms Wright said it was still nice to be home as she was finally able to open Christmas presents and eat her frozen festive dinner.