Commonwealth medallist Dan Bigham aims to earn on-track role at Paris Olympics

The 30-year-old Great Britain team pursuiter went to the Tokyo Olympics as a consultant for Denmark.

By Press Association Published: 30 July 2022 - 10.29am

Dan Bigham went to the Tokyo Olympics working for a rival team but now has his sights set on competing for Great Britain at Paris 2024.

Having established himself as a technical and tactical innovator in team pursuiting, Bigham’s skills as an aerodynamicist were in demand in the lead up to Tokyo and he went to Japan as a consultant for Denmark, who won silver in the men’s event.

At the time the 30-year-old believed his own days of riding the team pursuit were over as he focused on his bid to break the UCI World Hour Record, but a post-Olympic shake-up at British Cycling has reopened doors.

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games – Day One
Dan Bigham, right, celebrates England’s men’s team pursuit silver with Ethan Vernon, Ollie Wood and Charlie Tanfield (John Walton/PA)

On Friday, Bigham donned an England jersey and joined Charlie Tanfield, Ethan Vernon and Ollie Wood to win team pursuit silver at the Commonwealth Games, with their time of three minutes 49.584 the fastest a British team has clocked anywhere other than Tokyo.

And Bigham believes it shows he could be at the next Olympics as a rider.

“Team pursuit wasn’t a goal until the National Track Championships back in March when I had a very good individual pursuit – I broke the British record and went third quickest in history,” Bigham told the PA news agency.

“That was kind of an ‘Oh s***’ moment. Maybe I should be a pursuiter again. I’d put it on the shelf and thought working with Denmark was the end of the road. To have had the door reopened with British Cycling has been fabulous.

“I obviously stood on the other side of the fence for a year or two with the Danes but now I’m back in the fold on this side to try and help these guys go fast and be part of that. It’s genuinely good fun and I’m looking forward to the years going into Paris. Hopefully I can be part of that.”

For years Bigham’s relationship with the national federation was a rocky one. He was the brains behind Team KGF, later Huub Wattbike, the amateur squad that started pitching up at the national track championships after the Rio Games and regularly beat Great Britain riders to claim titles.

They earned invites to try out for the Olympic programme, and Tanfield got a place – going on to earn a team pursuit world title in 2018 and riding in Tokyo.

Bigham rode for Great Britain in the individual pursuit at those same World Championships but found it a frustrating environment. He became discouraged before focusing on his own projects.

Dan Bigham, Charlie Tanfield, Ethan Vernon and Oli Wood on their way to a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games
Dan Bigham, Charlie Tanfield, Ethan Vernon and Oli Wood on their way to a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games (John Walton/PA)

He continues to keep several plates spinning – another Hour Record attempt is imminent and he works as a performance engineer for the Ineos Grenadiers – but his ambitions as a rider have been rekindled with the new-look British Cycling.

“So many little things and big things (have changed),” he said. “There’s been wholesale change of the staff. Ben Greenwood coming in as the men’s endurance coach is absolutely game-changing, not just for myself but all the guys. It’s a totally different environment and a different culture.

“You hear it from the other guys how much better it is. It’s good for your head not having to fight. You say what you feel and work as a team, you don’t have to play politics, and I think that’s why we’re performing.

“That’s the fastest the team has gone outside Tokyo and I think there’s more to come.”