Oxford Brookes Alumnus smashes cycling world record

Thursday, 01 September 2022

Dan Bigham

A cycling world record has been smashed by Dan Bigham, a former Oxford Brookes University student.

Motorsport Engineering graduate Dan, aged 30, broke the previous hour record on Friday 19 August after cycling a distance of 55.548km in 60 minutes at the Tissot Velodrome in Grenchen, Switzerland. He beat the previous record by 500m, or a whole two laps of the velodrome track.

This amazing achievement comes only weeks after Dan was a silver medallist at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, in the Men’s 4000m Team Pursuit event.

Dan’s talent on and off the bike

During his time studying at Oxford Brookes, Dan, whose home town is Stone in Staffordshire, completed a 13-month long industrial placement with Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 team, working as a junior aerodynamicist. However Dan returned to complete his studies with the aim of specialising in cycling and triathlon as opposed to F1.

He focused both his undergraduate and postgraduate theses on time trial bike aerodynamic testing protocols in the real world and performance modelling and prediction.

After graduating in 2015, Dan worked as a performance engineer at sports technology company Pace Insights, working with Olympic teams to help them to achieve sporting glory. This involved tackling their engineering problems and developing software tools.

Dan now works as a performance engineer and aerodynamics specialist for the INEOS Grenadiers professional cycling team.

Following his world record success, Dan said: “Breaking the World Hour Record is quite literally a dream come true. It has been a project I’ve been working on even since my days at Brookes where I rode my first “Hour” on Palmer Park outdoor velodrome. It’s been incredibly satisfying as both an athlete and an engineer to have a project like this to apply myself to.

“My time at Brookes taught me a great deal about the application of engineering, critical thinking and high performance, usually in the area of my studies (Motorsport Engineering) where thinking differently and tackling problems from a different perspective is often rewarded. I was encouraged to take my learnings into the world of sport by one of my lecturers – Dan Bell. Sport has been a ripe area for me to make my mark, taking that critical thinking and progressive approach I learnt at Brookes into an environment where I could make a big impact on performance.

“Alongside my engineering I spent my time competing in both the athletics and cycling teams, enjoying all that BUCS and university sport has to offer. This really solidified my thoughts that sport should be about enjoyment too, which is something I’ve always strived to find in everything I’ve partaken in as I’m sure it is a key part of success.

“I’m incredibly thankful to Brookes for the grounding they gave me along with the support to go further!”

A sporting legacy at Oxford Brookes

Dan attended Oxford Brookes University from 2010 - 2015, and was crowned ‘Sportsman of the Year’ in 2014. He competed for the University’s cycling team and Oxford Brookes Running and Athletics Club (OBRAC) at British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) competitions.

Keith Kelly, Director of Sport at Oxford Brookes, said: “This is a truly inspirational achievement by Dan, who we are so proud to call an Oxford Brookes alumnus and a former Sportsman of the Year.

“It was clear to see how talented a sportsman Dan was during his days at Oxford Brookes, and although we are all incredibly impressed with his achievements, we are by no means surprised. Dan is a truly talented individual and humble in his success.”