2012 was a phenomenal year for British cycling.
Bradley Wiggins became the first British rider in history to win the Tour de France – world’s most prestigious three-week-long race.
The story behind his victory is rather fascinating.
In 2010 Dave Brailsford became the new General Manager and Performance Director for Team Sky. Brailsford is a man who masterminded British cycling team’s amazing success in Bejing 2008 (14 medals). As the new Manager he had put up a plan to win the Tour de France in 5 years.
He was wrong, however. They made it in 2 and half years.
Not only that. At the 2012 Olympic Games in London British cycling team dominated again. They won 12 medals, leaving other countries far behind. In 2013, Team Sky repeated their Tour de France victory; this time with rider Chris Froome.
Could all these victories be accidental? Hardly.
When it comes to acquiring peak performance under most stressful conditions, Dave Brailsford is a genius. He really understands how to optimize every aspect of ride’s life to produce outstanding results at the right time.
We always start by analyzing the demands of the event we want to win, so we really figure out what would it take to win whatever it is we want to win, then we prioritize because you know you can’t win everything, you know you will lose more than you win, that’s for sure, so you decide what you want to win, and then we work back to where we are today and look at the gap between where we are today and what we want to win, and create a plan and execute it. Dave Brailsford
Brailsford secret weapon is the concept he refers to as the “aggregation of marginal gains.”
Here’s how he explained it:
The whole principal of marginal gains came from the idea that if you broke down everything that could impact on a cycling performance, absolutely everything you could think of, and then you improved every little thing by 1%, when you clump it all together you get quite a significant increase in performance. Dave Brailsford
In cycling world that means improving obvious stuff like rider’s nutrition, training sessions, bike ergonomics, etc. But Team Sky doesn’t stop there. Fascinating thing about Brailsford’s approach is that he surrounds himself with a supportive team of “secret squirrels”, a small group of people who look outside of cycling industry to look for latest innovations that could be applicable to cycling. This way they make sure to take advantage of cutting edge technology.
When you look at all this, suddenly all those victories don’t look so accidental but rather carefully designed. Continue Reading →