Sir David John Brailsford CBE (born 29 February 1964)[1] is a British cycling coach and performance director. He was formerly performance director of British Cycling and is currently team principal of UCI WorldTeam Ineos Grenadiers.[2] He is currently working with French football club Nice and British football club Manchester United as part of his role as Director of Sport at Ineos.[3][4]

David Brailsford
Brailsford in 2007
Personal information
Full nameDavid John Brailsford
Born (1964-02-29) 29 February 1964 (age 60)
Shardlow, Derbyshire, England
Team information
Current teamIneos Grenadiers
DisciplineRoad and track cycling
RoleGeneral manager
Managerial teams
1997–2014British Cycling
2010–Team Sky

Early life edit

Brailsford was born in Shardlow, Derbyshire, and moved as a toddler with his parents and siblings to Deiniolen, near Caernarfon in Wales:

We were one of the few English families in that area of north Wales – we'd moved there from Derby when I was two – and somehow I always felt I didn't quite fit in. So I always thought I must try harder than the others to be accepted, to be successful.[5]

He attended Ysgol Deiniolen and Ysgol Brynrefail, and learned Welsh.[6][7] In 1984 he gave up his job as an apprentice draughtsman with the local highways department to travel to France, where he raced for four years as a sponsored amateur for a team based in Saint-Étienne. He has described his years in France as a time of learning:

I'd always hated school but now I had so much time on my hands and didn't go out much in the evenings, I became an avid reader. Training manuals, books about physiology, sports psychology. I became fluent in French too.[5]

He returned in 1988 to study for a degree in Sport and Exercise Sciences and Psychology at Chester College of Higher Education and then an MBA at Sheffield Hallam University.[8][9][10]

Career edit

Early career edit

Brailsford spent some of his early career working as an export sales manager at Planet X Bikes.[11] He was first employed by British Cycling as a consultant in 1998, after Lottery funding began the previous year.[8][12] Brailsford became programmes director before becoming performance director in 2003 following the departure of Peter Keen.[8]

'Marginal gains' philosophy edit

At British Cycling, Brailsford was noted for the concept of 'marginal gains':

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.[13]

Brailsford's approach involved the constant measuring and monitoring of key statistics such as cyclists' power output, and training interventions targeting specific weaknesses, for example the relative weakness of Bradley Wiggins in mountain racing.[14] As well as looking at traditional components of success such as physical fitness and tactics, it also entailed a more holistic strategy, embracing technological developments, athlete psychology, and everyday life:

Do you really know how to clean your hands? Without leaving the bits between your fingers? If you do things like that properly, you will get ill a little bit less. They're tiny things but if you clump them together it makes a big difference.[13]

Peaking in the mid-2010s at the height of Brailsford's reputation, 'marginal gains' philosophy was discussed beyond cycling in the UK mainstream media.[15] Brailsford's '1% Factor' was also discussed in business circles in the UK and internationally.[16][17] In UK education policy, the Social Mobility Commission argued in 2014 that improvements in the academic performance of disadvantaged students in British schools could be compared to "the success of [the] British cycling team: the aggregation of marginal gains".[18] Writing on the 2016 EU referendum, the political commentator Tim Shipman cited "the philosophy of the Team Sky cycling team" in making the argument that "tiny improvements" made by the Remain campaign could have changed the referendum's result.[19]

Latterly, the philosophy has been criticised and ridiculed, including by Wiggins.[20][21]

Great Britain cycling team edit

At the 2004 Olympic Games Great Britain won two cycling gold medals, their best performance since 1908.[22] 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 eight golds at both, while British cyclists won 59 World Championships across different disciplines from 2003 to 2013.[23]

In reference to the success, Brailsford noted: "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."[24]

Team Sky/Team Ineos edit

In 2010, Brailsford also became the manager of the new British-based professional team, Team Sky.[25] In this role he oversaw Bradley Wiggins', Chris Froome's and Geraint Thomas' victories in the 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 Tour de France.[26][27] In April 2014, Brailsford resigned as performance director at British Cycling to concentrate on his Team Sky responsibilities.[12]

Team Sky became Team Ineos in May 2019, due to a change of sponsor. Brailsford remained as team principal after the changeover.[28]

In December 2021, Brailsford was appointed Director of Sport at Ineos, overseeing a growing range of teams and disciplines sponsored by the group, including French football club Nice.[3] His role as Team Principal at INEOS Grenadiers cycling team continued unaffected.[29]

Doping controversy edit

In March 2018 the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee published the report Combatting Doping in Sport. Chapter 2 of the report, "British Cycling and Team Sky", focused on Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) gained by both organisations for the use of drugs on the WADA Prohibited List, citing the defence used by Wiggins and Shane Sutton that TUEs were used to "find gains" and put oneself "back on a level playing field" with rivals. The report alleged in particular that the drug triamcinolone had been "used to prepare" Wiggins "and possibly other riders supporting him" for the 2012 Tour de France, "not to treat medical need, but to improve his power to weight ratio ahead of the race". It concluded that Team Sky had crossed an "ethical line" by exploiting this loophole "to enhance the performance of riders".[30]

Following the publication of the report, Brailsford was defended by Chris Froome.[31]

Honours edit

References edit

  1. ^ Shuttleworth, Peter (17 August 2008). "Cycling's Taff at the top". BBC Sport. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  2. ^ "Ineos Grenadiers". Union Cycliste Internationale. Archived from the original on 2 January 2021. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Sir Dave Brailsford is appointed Director of Sport". OGC Nice. Retrieved 25 May 2023.
  4. ^ Chris Marshall-Bell (12 October 2022). "Dave Brailsford is living in a caravan in Nice as he tries to rescue his football experiment". Retrieved 25 May 2023.
  5. ^ a b Chadband, Ian (4 April 2013). "Sir Dave Brailsford and the story behind his amazing ride from Bangor to Buck House". The Telegraph. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  6. ^ "Penisarwaun mum's pride as Brailsford wins Sports Personality of the Year award". North Wales Live. 18 December 2008. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  7. ^ Wynn, Nigel (25 January 2016). "Sir Dave Brailsford appears in Welsh language TV soap opera". Cycling Weekly. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  8. ^ a b c "Sky Sports looks at Sir Dave Brailsford life and career". Sky Sports. 30 April 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Cycling: Chester graduate Brailsford honoured for GB Olympic cycling achievements". Cheshire Live. 16 January 2009. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  10. ^ a b "GB Cycling chief on track for honorary degree". Sheffield Hallam University. 18 December 2009. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  11. ^ Richards, Brant (1 March 2013). "Brailsford for the Chop". Planet X. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  12. ^ a b Fortheringham, William (26 February 2009). "Sky to sponsor British Tour de France team". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  13. ^ a b Slater, Matt (8 August 2012). "Olympics cycling: Marginal gains underpin Team GB dominance". BBC Sport. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  14. ^ Slater, Matt (5 February 2013). "How Dave Brailsford and Team Sky stormed cycling". BBC Sport. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  15. ^ Syed, Matthew (15 September 2015). "Viewpoint: Should we all be looking for marginal gains?". BBC News. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  16. ^ Harrell, Eben (30 October 2015). "How 1% performance improvements led to Olympic gold". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  17. ^ London Business Forum (1 December 2016). "Sir Dave Brailsford – The 1% Factor". YouTube. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 20 November 2019. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  18. ^ Maslen, Joseph (2019). "Cracking the Code: The Social Mobility Commission and Education Policy Discourse". Journal of Education Policy. 34 (5): 599–612. doi:10.1080/02680939.2018.1449891. S2CID 149726651. Archived from the original on 12 July 2021. Retrieved 22 September 2020."Accepted manuscript". Institutional open access repository. Archived from the original on 12 July 2021. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  19. ^ Shipman, Tim (2017). All Out War: The Full Story of Brexit (revised and updated ed.). London: William Collins. p. 592. ISBN 978-0-008-21517-0.
  20. ^ Lewis, Tim (20 October 2019). "Golden aura around marginal gains is beginning to look a little tarnished". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  21. ^ Cary, Tom (26 March 2017). "Sir Bradley Wiggins says marginal gains is 'load of rubbish' and calls Victoria Pendleton 'bit of a milkshake'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  22. ^ Slater, Matt (14 August 2008). "How GB cycling went from tragic to magic". BBC Sport. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  23. ^ "GB Cycling Team medal history: Medals won by the Great Britain Cycling Team at world championships, Olympic Games and Paralympic Games since 2000". British Cycling. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  24. ^ "Viewpoint: Should we all be looking for marginal gains?". BBC News. 14 September 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2023.
  25. ^ Fortheringham, William (10 April 2014). "Sir Dave Brailsford quits performance director job at British Cycling". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  26. ^ "Bradley Wiggins wins 2012 Tour de France". BBC Sport. 22 July 2012. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  27. ^ "Tour de France: Chris Froome wins 100th edition of race". BBC News. 21 July 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  28. ^ "Team Sky become Team Ineos as new sponsor owned by Sir Jim Ratcliffe is confirmed". BBC Sport. 19 March 2019. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  29. ^ Grenadiers, The Ineos. "Sir Dave Brailsford appointed Director of Sport at INEOS". Retrieved 17 December 2021.
  30. ^ House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (2 March 2018). "2. British Cycling and Team Sky §74, 109–110". Combatting Doping in Sport (Report). London: House of Commons. Retrieved 14 November 2019.{{cite report}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  31. ^ Skelton, Jack (9 March 2018). "Chris Froome 'completely backs' Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford after doping report". BBC Sport. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  32. ^ "MBE For Dave Brailsford". British Cycling. 15 June 2005. Archived from the original on 6 March 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2007.
  33. ^ Baker, Andrew (31 December 2008). "Golden generation gain their just rewards". The Telegraph. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  34. ^ Richardson, Simon (28 February 2013). "Dave Brailsford receives knighthood from the Queen". Cycling Weekly. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  35. ^ "Sports Personality 2008". BBC Sport. 14 December 2008. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
  36. ^ "Sports Personality: Cycling's Dave Brailsford is coach of the year". BBC Sport. 16 December 2012. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  37. ^ "Cycle coach Dave Brailsford receives freedom of Erewash". BBC News. 19 December 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  38. ^ "British Cycling Hall of Fame: Seven new inductions at international gala dinner". British Cycling. 28 October 2016. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  39. ^ "Sir Dave Brailsford opens Sports Centre named in his honour". Bangor University. Retrieved 17 October 2022.

Further reading edit

External links edit