Sir Dave Brailsford is a British cycling coach. He was formerly Performance Director of British Cycling and is currently general manager of Team Sky. Brailsford has been involved with cycling throughout his career and spent some of his early career working as an export sales manager at Yorkshire Bike Importer and distributor Planet X Bikes. He was first employed by British Cycling as an advisor when Lottery funding began in 1997.
British Cycling soon established its headquarters at the Manchester Velodrome, an Olympic-standard track, and Brailsford became programme director before becoming performance director in 2003 following the departure of Peter Keen. Brailsford is credited with championing a philosophy of ‘marginal gains’ at British Cycling:
“The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together”.
As well as looking at traditional components of success such as physical fitness and tactics, Brailsford’s approach focused on a more holistic strategy, embracing technological developments and also athlete psychology. He is noted for his emphasis on constant measuring and monitoring of key statistics such as cyclists’ power output, and developing training interventions that target any observed weaknesses.
At the 2004 Olympic Games Great Britain won two cycling gold medals, their best performance since 1908. Under Brailsford’s leadership, the cycling team continued to improve, winning multiple World Championships in road, track, BMX and Mountain bike racing. Great Britain led the cycling medal table at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, winning 8 golds at both, while British cyclists won 59 World Championships across different disciplines from 2003-2013.
In 2010, Brailsford also became the manager of the new British-based professional team, Team Sky. As Sky Team principal he oversaw both Bradley Wiggins’ and Chris Froome’s victories in the 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016 Tours de France. In April 2014, Brailsford resigned as performance director at British Cycling to concentrate his efforts on leading the ever more successful professional team.
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Watch Dave speak on marginal gains, here: