Pro rider Dan Bigham: “There aren’t enough TTs in the TDF.”

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Pro rider Dan Bigham of the Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling Team is best known for his track and time trial victories and is a self-obsessed aerodynamicist. Here the 28-year old talks all things TT and gives us his picks for this year’s Tour de France.

Team goals.

Dan Bigham is the aero-obsessed rider in the team and here he talks to us about his first love; TTs and then talks about his picks for this year’s TDF.

Let’s talk Time Trials.

Dan, you are the TT master in the team. What is it about the TT discipline you love?

The pure simplicity of it. Everything is within your control. Tie that in with the fact it involves a solid application of physics to perform well, and it just fits me perfectly.

Is there anything you do differently in your training to focus on TT compared to the rest of the team?

The main difference is that I spend around 90% of my training time on my Ultra TT bike. I want to go fast in that position so it makes sense to spend as much time as possible riding in it. It feels like my second home now and hopping back on to my Endurance SLR feels quite odd!

Thinking of all things aero

How is your bike set up currently, what changes have you made compared to last year?

From a contact point perspective, little has changed from last year. My position is quite optimised now, so small tweaks of 5mm here or there are the biggest changes I might do. From an equipment perspective, the biggest change is the latest WattShop Anemoi Aero Extension System. Although the adjustability of them is great for fine tuning and getting everything just right, for me the comfort and stiffness has been a big step forward.

What has been your proudest moment in TT racing?

Standing on the podium at the 2019 UCI Road World Championships on home soil in Harrogate. We might not have won the TTT (we got bronze) but it felt like we did. It felt like my best executed time trial, where you are on the edge through every braking zone and corner, nearly clipping each other’s wheels but never giving an inch away. I don’t think we could’ve found a second more that day.


Can you give us a few tips for those wanting to improve their TT times?

Get obsessed with the details. As our team mechanic, Rich Steels, always says “details matter”. Time trials are an efficiency contest, so you need to be the best at ensuring every aspect of your performance and equipment is fully optimised and dialled in. From your nutrition and pacing through to your tyre pressures and chain lubricant, everything matters so spend time becoming the best at looking after those details.

Team talk.

Let’s talk TDF.

The Tour de France starts this weekend. Who is your favourite rider in this year’s Tour and why?

Well, not every team has announced their squad yet, so that’s a hard one! If George Bennett of Jumbo Visma gets picked, then easily him. Just a straight-up guy with some interesting thoughts on the sport. He’s a lot more than a corporate robot and I’ve got a lot of time for that.

Who do you think will take Yellow Jersey? Green Jersey/Polka dot Jersey/White Jersey?

Primoz Roglic. He had some bad luck in the Dauphine, but he looked outrageously strong. With Kuss riding so well, and Dumoulin looking like he’s on his way back to top form, they’re going to take some beating in the race for Yellow. It’s cool to see Carapaz in the Ineos line up, and he’s got the potential to mix it up too.

Is there any rider who you think will be the surprise of the tour?

Maybe he played his cards early in the Dauphine so not so much of a surprise, but I expect Sepp Kuss to have quite a breakthrough tour.

What do you think of this year’s route? Which is the standout stage for you?

There isn’t nearly enough TTs. Since Sky/Ineos have achieved grand tour success by being strong against the clock, ASO have pushed back and had continually less time trial kilometres each year. It’s a shame since it really showcases riders and their all-round ability. I do think the only ITT of stage 20 will be incredibly decisive, especially with it finishing up a significant climb.

Probably plotting more aero gains while having his dinner.

Which is your favourite climb that has been in the TDF and have you ridden it? What was it like?

Haha! I like racing down hills not up them! I could probably name maybe five French climbs, but I’ve ridden a grand total of zero French climbs so I’m not best placed to review them. My personal opinion is to make drafting as minimal as possible so get everyone racing up the steepest climbs possible. It exposes everyone down to pure W/kg and shows who is physiologically best on that given day.

Post-ride relaxation.

What is your favourite TDF moment, and why?

Considering my work with Jumbo Visma last year, stages 1 and 2 of the 2019 tour are my favourite to date. Mike Teunissen’s “surprise” victory on stage 1 was quite cool. He’s flown under the radar on the sprint scene for a little while. I think a lot of people missed his win at the 4 Days of Dunkirk where on Stage 6 him and Groenewegen tricked the peloton when Groenewegen pulled off Teunissen’s wheel with 500m to go, letting his teammate ride off to victory.

Have you ever been to support the TDF and what are your memories of it?

You’re showing me up for my lack of cycling history here! I got into the sport in university for the love of competition along with applied engineering and physics, cycling proved a nice playground for that. I kept abreast of the TDF when it was on, but the cycling club definitely focused more on all of the hour record attempts going on in 2014 and 2015.

To learn more about Dan’s aero-obsession have a read of this blog.

If you want to look at the Ribble TT bikes have a look here.

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