"It's actually my first ever UCI time trial," Dan Bigham says the day before the men's elite individual time trial. "Outside of nationals, my other one was the team time trial at the Tour of Britain, as odd as that is."
Bigham felt confident in his preparation heading into the event, excited for the Flandrian roads and fans. Usually, the only comparison he can make between himself and the top time triallists in the world is through his beloved spreadsheets, comparing numbers, but now he'd finally be getting a chance to see how he fared against the best of the best in a race on the biggest stage.
He set himself an ambitious power target, and wasn't necessarily looking for "a top 10 or top whatever". As is often the case with Bigham, his hopes for the TT was broken down into buzzwords like "execution" and "controlling the controllables".
"I can pretty much, within reason, ride what I like equipment-wise, which is quite a nice thing," Bigham tells Cycling Weekly. "I'm not too limited on the sponsor front. I have the freedom to run the tyres, the wheels, cranks, drive train all that stuff as I want, which is nice. Okay, it can be a bit expensive to go out and buy your own kit, but it's a nice opportunity. I think probably I'm one of the more dialed riders in that respect. I can't really cross the finish line saying it's not fair I didn't have this wheel or that tyre or something.
"Hopefully it's a polished setup in comparison to some of the top guys but equally I don't have a WorldTour threshold of whatever Ganna's got, 450 watts plus, so I've got to make up the gains somewhere."
For a rider from a Continental team, and to be fair to Bigham that does a disservice to his talents, 16th overall, 2-11 slower than Ganna and only 18 seconds off a top 10 place is an impressive result.
"In my head, I wanted to get top-10 and thought that was achievable,” he said after the race, smiling, pleased with his effort. "But I don’t think that’s bad for my first Worlds. Hopefully, I can keep progressing as an athlete. It’s my first ever UCI time trial, so there’s still lots to learn."
Bigham's focus on tech, and his work in that regard on the track, probably plays down his obvious talent as a rider. Of course, his reputation as being the anti-establishment voice is what the media picks up on, which he says sometimes doesn't help his working relationship with British Cycling, but of course, him pulling on a GB skinsuit after the various, well-documented ups and downs with the national outfit, is news.
"It's an interesting relationship isn't it? I'm definitely not banned from the BC building, but I do love these rumours," Bigham says, laughing at the suggestion the drawbridge is pulled up whenever he even gets near the Greater Manchester area.
"I get on really well with the road guys, Matt Brammeier especially, everything you want from somebody who's going to basically decide the team.
"A year and a half ago I said to him 'I want to go and ride the World Champs, want to ride Commonwealth Games, all in the time trial, what do I need to do?'
"He was just really clear, really open with it, a case of being like these are the kind of races to go and do, these are the kinds of performances we need to see, these are the files I want from you...it's been top-notch really, crystal clear. And then it's back on my foot really to go and do that. Obviously being here shows that I've done something right in the past 12 or 18 months on the time trial front and hopefully I can reward the belief in me and do a good ride."
Bigham says he proudly wears his heart on his sleeve and that he'd encourage all athletes to speak their minds if they believe something isn't being done right. He does, however, reject any insinuation that he is the 'bad boy' of British Cycling.
"It's frustrating, it creates tension, because obviously then people ask more questions about it, people put that relationship under a microscope," he says.
"I'd be the first to say and I think most would agree that I don't always always agree with how things are done, with selection or whatever. But they have their reasons behind it and I think yes, sometimes I'm probably overly critical of it but I'm a vocal person in that respect and I wear my heart on my sleeve.
"British Cycling aren’t the big evil corporation that sometimes they’re made out to be," he adds after the finish of his time trial when the media once again asks about his relationship with British Cycling.
The final question for Dan Bigham, who from the outside seems to not see the world in technicolour but in bike components and wind tunnels, is what does he do when he's not thinking about cycling? Indeed, when I first phone him up to chat he asks if I can call back in 10 minutes as he's just fiddling with a couple of things on his TT machine the day before the race.
"I've become a bit of a coffee nerd, at the start the year I bought Joss [Lowden, his partner] a nice coffee machine, grinder and stuff for Christmas and began nerding out on that and I'm a big beer nerd as well," he admits.
"So as much as I shouldn't drink loads, and don't encourage drinking loads, I'm not an alcoholic by the way," he swiftly adds, "I enjoy a nice beer, checking out new breweries and that kind of thing.
"Actually, I started it back at university just as a side thing. I was brewing my own beer. I always thought I'd set up a brewery once I got my engineering degree and here I am a few years later doing anything but that."
So, when he eventually stops riding should we prepare for him to develop the most aero coffee and beer the world has ever seen?
"Probably," he laughs. "That's not wrong, to be honest."
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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