At Rio this year, Great Britain had their most successful performance at an Olympic games, and much of that success was built on the extraordinary performance of their cycling team. Team GB completely dominated the men’s and women’s track cycling, winning 6 gold metals out of 11. Everyone in the squad returned home with at least one medal. Their performance was so comprehensive that rival nations have questioned their methods. So how did a team that hasn’t been on the world stage since London 2012 do so well?
The GB cycling team was the highest funded of all nations, receiving US$39.4 million for a four year period, which is almost twice as much as other teams. Australia was second highest at US$23.5 million. This level of funding has received criticism in the UK for favoritism ahead of other sports, however the results have been telling. The funding served as the catalyst for the most cutting-edge research across any sport. Cyclists rode on US$13,000 bikes developed in secret at Cambridge University by former Jaguar F1 team boss, Tony Purnell. They wore skin-suits that analysts predict add five per cent performance gains, and their activities on and off the track were poured over in pursuit of the smallest gains. Nothing was overlooked, from square vs. rectangular pillows and seat angles to shaving body hair
Team GB had single-minded focus towards Olympic success at the cost of all else. Their results at the World Championships and other international events since the London Olympics barely caused a blip on the radar as their entire focus was based around the four-year Olympic cycle. Track cycling received funding favoritism ahead of road, however the results speak volumes with 6 golds coming at a cost of US$6.5 million each and the cycling team winning twice as many gold medals than in any other sport