“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.”
What would it take to become the number one in the world at what you do? For example, how long would you need to train a winner of cycling’s most famous - and gruelling – race, the Tour De France? How would you even begin to plan for that?
The Accumulation of Marginal Gains is a strategy to do precisely that, credited to Dave Brailsford, Performance Director of both British Cycling and Team Sky. And one which has undoubtedly played a huge part in the successes of recent times for Team GB.
As well as the obvious factors such as the nutrition of riders, their weekly training programme, the ergonomics of the bike seat, and the weight of the tyres, Brailsford and his team searched for potential improvements in areas so seemingly insignificant that they were overlooked by almost every other team. From discovering the pillow that offered them the best sleep and ensuring they had it with them whilst staying away, to testing for the most effective type of massage gel, and teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection. Every possible area that could be improved, by even 1%, was targeted.