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Dan Bigham – “We have no expectations – we are going there to win”

"At the end of the day, we're doing this because we love racing our bikes, so if we've got the chance to visit some amazing places and ride fast then why not?"

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We’ve spoken to Dan Bigham more than once this year, he won eight British Championships this year, against the watch and on the track.

But there’s more to Bigham and his KGF team than domestic success; they’ve been riding the UCI World Cup series and in December rode international track meetings in Portugal and Switzerland with strong results.

In Portugal, Bigham won the kilometre and rising pursuit star Charlie Tanfield won the pursuit with another quick time.

Tanfield’s brother, Harry who’s well known to Scottish race followers – coming up regularly to nick the prizes – joined the team for their Swiss adventure.

Switzerland saw them back in their favourite discipline, the team pursuit which they duly won in four minutes dead.

We caught with Monsieur Bigham over the New Year holiday…

Dan Bigham
Dan prepares to blast out of the gate. Photo©Portuguese Cycling Federation

Portugal didn’t go so badly, Dan – you won the kilometre and Harry Tanfield the pursuit.

“Aye, not too bad!

“Your Scottish boy John Archibald was nipping at my heels in individual pursuit qualifying, I snook through by a handful of tenths.

Harry Tanfield was head and shoulders above us all, knocking out a 4:13 casual as anything.

“If he paced it well he’d have gone close to the world record – a first lap of 14.7 seconds isn’t the way to open an individual pursuit ride.

“Winning the kilo was quite fun actually, I don’t think it was a great ride but a win is a win!”

What does it cost to enter an event like that?

“I think Portugal cost us a touch over £1,000.

“Flights including bike boxes and turbos aren’t cheap, then factoring in hiring a car, fuel, accommodation etc. soon racks the costs up.

“We do everything as cost efficiently as possible, we don’t have a big budget unfortunately but have had some great help from the public who have donated to our Go Fund Me page.”

Dan Bigham
Despite the pressure cooker environment there’s still time for some light relief. Photo©James Poole

Then Switzerland and the team pursuit win in 4:00 – are you happy with the ride and time?

“Definitely.

“We hadn’t focused on Switzerland as an A race, even more so after Jonny Wale broke his collarbone post Manchester World Cup, so it was cool to have the pressure off and just ride.

“We’d only had one team pursuit session since the World Cup so we were a little more ragged than usual but it was a solid time and we were happy to break out the champers!”

Dan Bigham
Exquisite style from Dan. Photo©Portuguese Cycling Federation

Harry Tanfield and brother Charlie a one-two in the individual pursuit, nice result.

“A great result for the team.

“It would’ve been nice to lock out the whole podium but I didn’t have the legs to be in the frame.

“If Harry didn’t throw the anchor out on lap 15 Charlie might have taken the stadium record and a nice 500 Swiss francs bonus!

“There’s a great picture floating about of Charlie catching Harry in the final on the finish line, it looks just like a pursuit match sprint finish.”

Harry has slotted in well…

“Very much so!

“With Jonny out of action with his broken collarbone we’d pulled Harry in to the squad to replace him until the Belarus World Cup in January.

“He’s a mad good tester on the road and has spent some time on the Olympic Development Plan as a youth, so he can ride the track.

“I managed to borrow a Dolan DF4 off our team soigneur Adam Wade for Harry to use.

“He went to British University Championships where he promptly popped out a 4:26 individual pursuit off a single track session.

“A few weeks later, some more go faster kit and he’s down to a 4:19.

“In the team pursuit he’s got the endurance to get round, but need some top end gas to get himself on to a fast start and to take turns.

“It’ll come in time.”

Dan Bigham
Harry Tanfield. Photo©James Poole

And Jonny has recovered well?

“Yes, ridiculously quickly.

“We’ve got some great support from Derbyshire Institute of Sport who have been giving him some top notch physiotherapy and strength and conditioning to really accelerate his recovery.

“I don’t think his training has been hugely affected beyond not being able to ride on the track, the turbo and gym have been his daily staple for the past month.

“He’ll be back better than ever by Belarus.”

Dan Bigham
Dan at speed. Photo©Portuguese Cycling Federation

Are you worried you’re perhaps racing too much right now?

“We’ve discussed whether we should be racing right now and what possible negatives there are, but we wanted to push to see if we could grab two spots in the individual pursuit for World Champs with enough UCI ranking points.

“At the end of the day, we’re doing this because we love racing our bikes, so if we’ve got the chance to visit some amazing places and ride fast then why not?”

What about the new Walker Brothers wheels?

“Just this morning I got my hands on another prototype rear disc from Brian Walker.

“The Cervélo T4 is a bit of an annoying bike in all honesty; it might be fast but there are a lot of design flaws that detract from it including its very tight chain stays.

“We’ve been working with Brian on different profiles that fit the frame.

“We think we’re there now, the proof will be when I get to aero test this wheel in a couple of days (off for another layer of tub glue now…)”

The Belarus World Cup in January, Harry is going with you – what’s the expectation?

“We’re going out with a five man squad.

“We have no expectations. We are going out there to win and will be giving it everything to stand on the top step at a world cup.

“We’re hopeful of a nice low pressure storm and the organiser throwing the heating on too – a fast time would be wicked!”

Then the British National Championships, is the goal a clean sweep of the timed events – kilometre, pursuit and team pursuit?

“I couldn’t say anything other than yes, got to bring home the bacon!

“I’m going there with the plan of defending all three titles, (kilometre, individual pursuit and team pursuit).

“The level this year is going to be huge.

“In the individual pursuit I think you’ll need to be sub 4:25 if you even want a top eight ride-off, which is crazy!

“A time of 4:25 has won the event in recent years.

“The kilo is going to be fast too, I think that’ll be won in a low 1:01.xx. There are a lot of quick guys planning to take that on.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing how it all goes.”

How about the bunch races?

“I’ve very little track bunch race experience so I think it would be a bit naive to throw myself in to them too.

“I guess I’ve billed myself as a ‘tester’, but I would definitely like to have a dabble in the bunch stuff next season but now isn’t the time for that.”

John Archibald will be with you for 2018. Will he figure in your team pursuit plans? He’s had a couple of nice bunched results in Portugal and Switzerland.

“Yes, he will.

“We’re planning to put a B team in to the team pursuit and John will feature in that alongside some other very fast names!

“It’s quite exciting thinking about it now, another team pursuit optimisation project with the potential to go real quick at nationals.”

Dan Bigham
Dan sees no reason not to improve two podium steps. Photo©Portuguese Cycling Federation

What’s the latest with British Cycling regarding you guys selection for the Worlds and Games?

“Iain Dyer from British Cycling has invited myself and Charlie to some more training days with the team pursuit squad over the next month to further assess how we slot in and work with the guys.

“It’s great to be given that opportunity and it’s been good fun to ride team pursuit a little differently as well as pick up on the more technical aspects that the GB guys are so well drilled at.”

And how about Jonny Wale for Scottish Cycling and the Commonwealth Games?

“Probably one for Jonny to answer but it all seems very positive.

“I think he may as well get his flight booked now, those two 1:01 rides at Manchester World Cup demonstrated he is World Class in the Kilo even with the slowest start of the entire field.”

Good to see Bigham & Co. challenging ‘the established order’ of things – we wish them well and look forward to seeing the results from the Minsk World Cup, 19th through 21st January.

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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