​​Dan Bigham is relishing the opportunities in his new role as Performance Engineer at the INEOS Grenadiers.

Bigham, an expert in aerodynamics and the current holder of the British Hour Record, joined the team in November and has been spending his time observing and preparing to use his expertise and insights across the performance team.
Bigham won’t race for the team and is not a part of the rider roster for 2022 but the 30 year old has not hung up his wheels. He will still compete in time trials and is looking to tackle the Hour Record again this year, following his attempt last autumn.
“It’s a huge opportunity,” explained Bigham. “I was hopeful that at some point in my career I could work at this high level and I was thinking that maybe an opportunity like this might come in a few years. I wasn’t hunting for it but the way it’s come about is a dream really.
“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. 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.”
Dan Bigham

Dan Bigham

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 spoke to Sir Dave Brailsford and Rod Ellingworth midway through 2021 as the pair looked to build on the performance team ahead of an ambitious 2022.
“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 was looking for someone to take on that role as a performance engineer and test rider, and 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.”

Bigham spent December at the team’s preseason camp in Mallorca, putting important work in with the riders, building relationships, and training with the squad, working under Head of Performance Support and Innovation, Paul Barratt.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the camp,” he continued. “It was a great chance to meet the team more informally after some intense performance meetings in Woking and Paris in November. Just to sit back and learn more about people, build a rapport, what they’ve done before, what they’re working on. Getting to know people was incredibly helpful.
“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. As Paul Barratt puts it, there is the flying of the plane - trying to do your job on the move - while also trying to fix and improve the plane as you go.  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.
“There will be lots of different areas that open up as we go. 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.”
Bigham has mixed his racing commitments with off-bike work over the past few years and is hugely appreciative of the team’s outlook on his riding ambitions.
“Historically I’ve had to juggle my cycling with my work. To consolidate everything into one role so I’m not doing my own testing and then having to do the same thing for everyone else is one big advantage of coming on board. Everything that I’m developing for riders and the team is the same for me, so there is a benefit in both directions.
“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. 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.”