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Ineos Grenadiers’ new aero aficionado to bring F1 thinking to pro cycling

British hour record holder Dan Bigham joins team as performance engineer as science and cycling bump bars harder than ever before.

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You don’t need to be a nerd to be into cycling, but it helps.

That’s sure the case for Dan Bigham, the aero aficionado and British hour record holder that’s joined Ineos Grenadiers in the role of performance engineer.

With a degree in motorsport engineering and experience working with the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team as an aerodynamicist, Bigham comes to the Ineos Grenadiers back room as the squad looks to hold the wheels in the new world of grand tour racing.

“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 in a team release this week.

“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 optimization, helmets, clothing, tire selection, tire pressure choice, pacing strategies to gearing choices.”

Also read: Dan Bigham bests British hour record

Bigham, 30, is the latest new recruit to the Ineos Grenadiers staffing setup as it looks to reclaim its spot on the grand tour throne from Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič.

Sport director Roger Hammond and former sailing staffer Ben Williams have also been brought in this winter, while long-time coach Tim Kerrison is out.

Just like Williams will bring skills from sailing, Bigham is set to bring brainpower from his experience of Formula 1. He’s previously spent time optimizing aerodynamics at Jumbo-Visma, Canyon SRAM, and the Danish track team, and undoubtedly had a hand in dialing in his partner Joss Lowden’s world hour record ride.

Having team boss Dave Brailsford now working across the Ineos sports empire means Bigham will have exposure to the big thinking of leading motor racing team Mercedes.

“Following Ineos’ investment in the Mercedes F1 team and the collaboration across sport at Ineos, the team was already starting to learn how F1 did things and it made them realize 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,” he said.

Wind-tunnel testing and the quest for quicker components and clothing is nothing new in the pro peloton.

Also read: Bernal tweaking TT position in high-tech lab this off-season

Egan Bernal has already been busy tidying up his time trialing in a lab in Germany as he hopes to tame TT heavyweights Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič at the Tour de France. But Bigham plans to dial up the saddle pressure mapping, body sensors, and CdA metrics far further.

“There will be lots of different areas that open up as we go,” he said. “Time trialing 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.”

Bigham has already started working with Ineos Grenadiers during its December camp, and will keep doing so through 2022 while also racing time trials and having another run at the hour record. He’ll have to be sure not to tell Filippo Ganna too many of his tips beforehand.