Ineos Grenadiers enlist Dan Bigham to bring F1 engineering to bike racing

The Englishman will be allowed to ride time-trials as well as helping the team with aerodynamics

Dan Bigham
Dan Bigham competes at the World Championships last year
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Dan Bigham is to help bring Formula 1 engineering to Ineos Grenadiers in his new role as Performance Engineer at the British cycling team.

In an interview published on Ineos Grenadiers' website, Bigham explained his new role, saying that it is to "apply all of the team’s collective knowledge and science of aerodynamics and equipment to athletes".

His move to Ineos Grenadiers was confirmed a fortnight ago, but in the interview released on Thursday, more about his new job was revealed.

The British cyclist, who raced for Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling in 2021, said that he would use the knowledge available to the team through their connection to the Mercedes F1 team.

He said: "Following Ineos’ investment in the Mercedes F1 team and the collaboration across sport at Ineos, the team were already starting to learn how F1 did things and it made them realise there were a few potential gaps around the race engineering, the application of knowledge, and also gearing that towards the athlete - explaining to them why they should do things."

"Dave [Brailsford] was looking for someone to take on that role as a performance engineer and test rider," Bigham continued. 

"At the same time I was finishing up with the Danish Cycle Union having worked up to the Tokyo Olympics with them. I got chatting with Dave and Rod, thrashed out a lot of different ideas and they asked me to do a knowledge seeking exercise, going round the team, talking to people, trying to figure out where I would fit in best, and seek ideas without having been prejudiced by being thrown in at the deep end."

The 30-year-old broke the British Hour Record, clocking a distance of 54.723 kilometres and lifting the title from Bradley Wiggins, in October 2021. 

The current Hour Record, set by Victor Campenaerts, still stands at 55.089km - and Bigham has stated that he needs only seven extra watts to surpass the benchmark.

He will combine his new engineering role with his own cycling ambitions, which might include another tilt at the Hour Record.

"Whenever I’m on camps, I can train with the squad and everyone on the team wants that because it means I can also be the test rider and drive the development that helps the squad. It all works in harmony," Bigham explained.

"That’s one of the reasons I wanted to be supported to ride my bike within the team because instead of having two separate streams, pulling and pushing against each other, it meant we were all aligned and going in the same direction."

His new role will see him use his engineering and aerodynamic knowledge, combined with his experience as a professional cyclist.

“My role is effectively to apply all of the team’s collective knowledge and science of aerodynamics and equipment to athletes, acting as the conduit in the middle," Bigham said.

"I can speak in rider terminology because I race a bike, but I can also speak in aerodynamic and engineering terminology and can be the person to bridge the two, as well as work to answer the questions that we currently don’t have answers to. 

"That could be anything from position optimisation, helmets, clothing, tyre selection, tyre pressure choice, pacing strategies to gearing choices. We’re trying to better connect both sides.”

The Englishman was present at the team's first training camp this year in Mallorca, where he revealed they undertook some aero testing in the velodrome, and he also got to ride with the team.

He said: "We did a significant amount of aero testing on the velodrome in Mallorca. I also did quite a bit out on the road as well. There was a lot of benchmarking, establishing systems and looking at what we can do moving forward....

"At the same time I got out on the road with a lot of the guys. At one point I was riding up a climb with Ganna, Tao, Carapaz, Bernal and Yates, it was quite a surreal moment. It’s an epic team to be involved in."

Bigham's initial aim is to improve the time trialling at Ineos Grenadiers, something he called a "no-brainer".

 "Time trialling will lead the way and that’s a bit of a no brainer as there’s always work to be done there, but hopefully we can bring that same mentality and approach across to road racing as well, and look at how we can optimise each of the riders and the roles that they do. 

"So it’s not just ‘you’re riding these wheels, handlebars, helmets, skinsuits’ across the entire team but it can be unique and tailored for their role, course, and each day."

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