GB Cycling’s excuses are ‘laughable’ says former British rider turned Denmark coach Dan Bigham, who blames the team’s slump on complacency

  • GB coach Stephen Park said British cyclists are taking their knowledge abroad
  • He said the reason his squad is no longer dominant is because of the brain drain
  • But Dan Bigham said GB’s ‘complacency’ and ‘flaws’ are the reasons for failure 

The former Great Britain rider now masterminding Denmark’s team says it is ‘laughable’ for British Cycling to blame a brain drain for their decline.

Dan Bigham has hit back after British Cycling performance director Stephen Park claimed one of the reasons his squad are no longer dominant is because Brits who ‘acquired knowledge’ on the national programme have taken that expertise to other countries.

Bigham, who rode at the 2018 Track Cycling World Championships and is now a performance engineer for Denmark, suggests British Cycling are struggling because of ‘complacency’ and ‘flaws in their system’.

Former rider Dan Bigham says British Cycling are struggling because of their 'complacency'

Former rider Dan Bigham says British Cycling are struggling because of their ‘complacency’

And he revealed that Park asked him to share his secrets 12 months ago — without offering to pay for the Derby-based rider’s intellectual property (IP).

GB won only four medals at last week’s Track Cycling World Championships, which led to Park warning we should ‘temper our expectations’ ahead of this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo.

He added of GB’s rivals: ‘A lot of them have got Brits involved, who have acquired knowledge from their time at British Cycling and gone on to trade that effectively.’

Bigham was one of the brains behind the world record Denmark set last week in the men’s team pursuit, an event GB have won at the last three Olympics.

Responding to Park’s comments, he told Sportsmail: ‘It’s laughable. I think they are looking in the wrong place.

Performance director Stephen Park said GB cyclists are taking knowledge to other teams

Performance director Stephen Park said GB cyclists are taking knowledge to other teams

‘It’s funny for them to be claiming that suddenly their IP going elsewhere is why they are not performing. I think there are other things at play.

‘Their downfall is not because of the work that we are doing, it’s because of flaws in their system that they need to address. But it’s not in my interest to point out a million different things that I think they could do differently or better — my job is to make sure we beat them.’

The medal table in Berlin was topped by the Netherlands, who beat GB to gold in the men’s team sprint and were coached by Brit Mehdi Kordi. He worked previously with Britain’s para-cycling squad.

Simon Jones is Cycling Australia’s performance director, having been British Cycling’s head coach until 2007, and 2008 British Olympic silver medallist Ross Edgar is Australia’s sprint coach.

GB have the biggest cycling budget of any Olympic nation and topped the medal table in the sport at the last three Games. Yet Bigham said: ‘They have probably been a bit complacent and not tried new things.

‘Having had more in hand, maybe they have not pressed so hard on physiology because they know they will find 10-15 per cent improvement on technology.

GB won only four medals at last week's Track Cycling World Championships

GB won only four medals at last week’s Track Cycling World Championships

‘Maybe they’ve rested on their laurels and now they are on the back foot and it’s probably too little, too late.

‘It’s not my place to say where I think they are spending money wrong, but I’ve heard some funny stories about how they’ve spent it. If they don’t do well in Tokyo, they are going to have some questions to answer.’

Bigham has a Masters in engineering and was an aerodynamicist for Mercedes in Formula One before focusing on cycling. He says he was deliberately ‘left in the ‘dark’ about British Cycling’s data during his time riding with the team in 2018.

‘When I was there trialling, I never had any access to their IP,’ he said. ‘They were quite vocal about why, given that my job outside of riding is effectively selling the knowledge that I own to cycling teams. So I’ve definitely not stolen anything.’

Bigham has previously revealed frustrations at British Cycling for ignoring performances of British riders on his trade team, who have regularly beaten the national team at World Cup events.

That is why he met Park last year and British Cycling’s then head of performance support Paul Barratt, who has since joined Team Ineos. Bigham added: ‘It was a weird meeting to say the least. The intention was around how the teams can crossover and they kind of said they would be interested in putting something in place.

‘But they said they would also like me to do a whole once-over of how they do things because they said they develop blind spots.’

Team Ineos sporting director Nicolas Portal has died at the age of 40. The former professional cyclist was a part of Chris Froome’s four Tour de France wins from 2013 to 2017.

A statement from Ineos — formerly Team Sky — said the Frenchman died at home in Andorra yesterday. Froome said on Twitter: ‘My thoughts are with Nico’s wife and children tonight. He was the kindest, happiest guy I knew and always lived life to the fullest. Rest In Peace Nico.’

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