'I'll beat him in 12 months' - Dan Bigham takes individual pursuit silver against Filippo Ganna at World Championships

Brit led in the event until the final seconds, when he was pipped by close friend

Dan Bigham shakes hands with Filippo Ganna
(Image credit: Getty)

Dan Bigham has pledged to take revenge on his colleague and friend Filippo Ganna, after losing out to the Italian in the individual pursuit final at the World Championships on Sunday. 

The duo staged a thrilling battle inside the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, with Bigham leading for almost the entirety of the four-kilometre race. Ganna then clawed back victory on the final lap, clocking a 4-01.976 and winning by 0.054 seconds. 

Afterwards, the pair stopped together on the home straight, smiled at each other, and shared a long hug. 

“I ran him pretty damn close, I thought,” Bigham told the media, including Cycling Weekly. “To be completely honest, with four [laps] to go, the taps were open, I’m all out. It’s whatever I’ve got, and I just didn’t quite have it.” 

Over the first two thirds of the race, the 31-year-old drew out a two-second advantage over Ganna, before the world record holder began to fight back the deficit. When the gun sounded, Bigham looked up to the scoreboard and dropped his head into his arms, having missed out by five hundredths of a second. 

“It’s like half a watt. No, it’s not even…” the Brit said, trailing off as he calculated the power difference on the spot. “Geez. I just needed that little bit more.”

The match-up in the final was billed as Frankenstein taking on his monster. In his day job, Bigham works as a performance engineer and aerodynamicist for Ineos Grenadiers, tasked with making the team's riders, including Ganna, faster. 

Last year, Bigham was central in masterminding the Italian’s successful attempt on the World Hour Record, helping him beat the benchmark that he himself set. Still, despite how close the duo are, the Brit only found out on Saturday that Ganna was doing the individual pursuit. 

“We were training together about a month ago in Andorra on an Ineos [Grenadiers] camp, and he said, ‘Yeah, I’m not doing the IP this year. I’m going to leave it open.’ I thought, ‘That will make it a bit easier’,” Bigham said. “Then the start list came out yesterday and he was on the start list. I sent him a message, and he goes, ‘I thought I’d make it a bit of fun.’ So I was like, ‘Alright, game on.’” 

Having come a hair's breadth from victory, Bigham left his friend with some fighting talk. What did he tell Ganna on the track? “I’m going to beat him in 12 months' time,” he smiled, with one eye on the Paris Olympics. 

Bigham’s lionhearted demeanour on Sunday night was a stark change from Thursday, when he left the velodrome dejected, following an early exit from the team pursuit. The British quartet were unable to defend their titles in the event after Charlie Tanfield crashed out of qualifying

“I would happily sacrifice that IP [silver medal] every day of the week to race that team pursuit qualifying again,” Bigham said. “The team pursuit is the number one. That’s everything to us and to me as a rider, as well. Hopefully in 12 months, we’ll be standing in Paris and I’ll have a medal around my neck that’s gold.” 

Italy's Jonathan Milan, who rides for Bahrain Victorious on the road, took bronze in the individual pursuit. 

Para medals keep flowing

Sophie Unwin and Jenny Holl win at the World Championships against the Australians

(Image credit: Getty)

Elsewhere in the velodrome on day four, Great Britain took five further rainbow jerseys in the para-cycling, bringing the squad closer to the 20 golds they won last year. 

The first fell to Fran Brown, who broke her own world record in the women’s C1 individual pursuit, with a 4-10.941 over three kilometres.

Nineteen-year-old Archie Atkinson then claimed victory on his Worlds debut, outfoxing the rest of the pack in the C4 Scratch race. He passed the baton onto Kadeena Cox, the former Paralympic runner, who earned herself a fifth world title in the C4 500m time trial. 

Later in the evening, tandem duo Sophie Unwin and Jenny Holl cemented their status as the Championships’ most successful riders, when they won a third gold medal, this time in the women’s blind sprint. The pair lost the first of the three face-offs against the Australians, but came back to win 2-1. 

“When we lost the first ride I thought, 'This is it. This is over. Silver medal, we’re happy with that',” Holl said afterwards. “Three jerseys in four days, I don’t know what to say.” 

Fin Graham also beat Jaco van Gass in an all-British men‘s C3 individual pursuit final. 

Kopecky in golden form

Lotte Kopecky celebrates in Glasgow Velodrome

(Image credit: Getty)

Fresh from second place at the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, Lotte Kopecky started her track campaign with aplomb, winning the Elimination race convincingly. “I came out of the Tour de France, straight to Glasgow, and I didn’t really feel the fatigue from the Tour,” she told Cycling Weekly. “I think the Tour was a very good preparation towards this week.” 

The Belgian will not defend her world title in the Madison on Monday, as her partner, Shari Bossuyt, is currently banned following an anti-doping positive. “I’m disappointed, of course, that we cannot race tomorrow in the Madison,” Kopecky said. “But I think I will be even more disappointed if we cannot race in the Olympics.” 

Also on Sunday, Portugal’s Iúri Leitão won the men’s Omnium in the absence of the defending champion Ethan Hayter, who is recovering from a collarbone fracture. While Ellesse Andrews (New Zealand), an Olympic silver medallist, claimed a career-first world title in the Keirin, beating last year’s winner Lea Sophie Friedrich (Germany) in a four-up photo finish.

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Tom Davidson
News and Features Writer

Tom joined Cycling Weekly as a news and features writer in the summer of 2022, having previously contributed as a freelancer. He is the host of The TT Podcast, which covers both the men's and women's pelotons and has featured a number of prominent British riders. 

An enthusiastic cyclist himself, Tom likes it most when the road goes uphill and actively seeks out double-figure gradients on his rides. 

He's also fluent in French and Spanish and holds a master's degree in International Journalism.