The British cycling team has had many successes over the last 15 years, thanks in particular to Dave BRAILSFORD. I explain in this article the secret that allowed to put an end to a hundred years of mediocrity.

Photo by Florian Schmetz on Unsplash

Reverse the trend

Dave BRAILSFORD joined the British Cycling Federation in 2003. At the time, the federation’s record was rather poor. Only one Olympic medal since 1908 and no victory in the famous Tour de France, a mythical cycling race.

The British cycling team’s performance was so disappointing that one of the top European bicycle manufacturers refused to sell them their machines, fearing a negative impact on their sales.

BRAILSFORD’s objective was clear: reverse the trend.

The strategy of marginal gains

He applied the strategy of aggregating marginal gains. It consists of looking for the smallest improvement in everything we do (say, 1%) to get a significant increase when added up. This is the same principle that governs stock market growth or successful YouTube channels, for example.

BRAILSFORD and his team optimized all the parameters involved in a cycling race and its preparation: saddles, tires, clothing, massage gels, etc.

Better results

The results were not long in coming.

Between 2007 and 2017, British cyclists won

  • 178 world championships,
  • 66 Olympic or Paralympic gold medals and
  • 5 Tour de France victories.

This illustrates the value and importance of making small improvements continuously over the long term.

If we gain 1% per day, we will obtain after one year, more than 37% of cumulative improvements (1.01 exponent 365 = 37.78).

If you wish to optimize your habits, those of your team and/or your organization, and benefit from other proven techniques, do not hesitate to contact me.

You can also check out this article dedicated to minimal routines.


Atomic Habits, James Clear, 2018

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