The HUUB Wattbike rider believes his riders are good enough to represent Great Britain at the 2020 Olympic Games, but the current selection process means the odds are stacked against a rider not on the British cycling team
Dan Bigham missed out on selection for the track cycling World Championships this week, but he isn’t letting that destroy his dream of making it to the Olympics next year.
The HUUB Wattbike rider applied for a spot on the British team who start competing in Poland today, but was not deemed to be a genuine medal contender for the individual pursuit. His team-mate John Archibald was selected for the event that takes place on Friday.
“I was disappointed, but it was a long shot” Bigham admitted.
The closing date for applications was the day before the National Championships in January (although any riders wanting to be considered for the bunch events had to perform at the Nationals) where Bigham took a silver medal with a 4-14 minute ride in qualifying before being caught by Archibald in the final.
“The sport is moving on so fast and my time from the nationals is probably not good enough for a medal,” he said. ” I’d need to have done a 4-12. Looking at the conditions in Poland it’s not going to be that fast, but you’ll probably need a 4-11 to medal.”
Bigham could only apply using using his IP performances from the Commonwealth Games and the international track meet in Grenchen, Switzerland last December.
“I asked on my application for the Nationals ride to be considered as I didn’t think my time in Switzerland was fair. They rang the bell a lap early. I sat up, looked at the clock and saw 3-59, and thought; ‘that’s not right!’”
British Cycling’s selection process sees a rider receive a simple yes or no reply to their application with no feedback. When CW asked why Bigham (who was eighth last year) wasn’t selected we were told the selection committee believed that no one other than John Archibald was medal competitive.
Archibald, who broke Chris Boardman’s 1996 IP national record in Grenchen and then went faster still at the National Championships in February, will be the only GB rider in the IP despite the nation qualifying two spots. Charlie Tanfield decided not to ride in order to fully focus on the team pursuit.
Bigham – whose HUUB Wattbike team have won World Cup team pursuits, moved Charlie Tanfiled on to the Great Britain Cycling Team and has now got John Archibald selected for the Worlds all on a minimal budget – is in discussions with BC regarding Olympic selection.
Although he wouldn’t go in to detail on the discussions, his aim is for non-funded riders to have a way in to the Olympic squad if their performances merit it.
“Plan A is get the team to the Olympics. We’re trying, and that’s what matters,” he said. “I feel like we made good progress on understanding each other. The onus is on us to figure it out as we’re the ones coming to challenge. BOA (British Olympic Association) policy hasn’t even been ratified, it’s still in draft format.”
Other Olympic sports work on a trials basis whereas cycling has been more of a closed team since lottery funding came in in 1996. No rider outside of the squad has ever been in contention for Olympic selection.
“Tokyo is our only chance. We all in our late 20s, so it’s now or never,” Bigham added.
Bigham is now looking to his road program with the Ribble team. Currently on a training camp in Calpe, Spain, he is already monitoring the atmospheric conditions in Pruszkow where his team-mate Archibald will ride on Friday. His performance could be a key factor in any potential changes in BC’s selection policy.