Cycling: Purnell takes Team GB technical role

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BRITISH Cycling has appointed Professor Tony Purnell as head of technical development for the Great Britain team.

Purnell, a former team principal of the Jaguar Formula 1 team and ex-technical advisor to the FIA, world motorsport governing body, will work alongside Chris Boardman, who will continue as a consultant.

British Cycling is renowned for its attention to detail and Purnell will work across all aspects of technology, from improving data analysis to assisting the coaches with the development of organisational software and other tools to optimise rider performance.

The so-called “Secret Squirrel Club” – a research and development group led by 1992 Olympic champion Boardman and including Matt Parker, the head of marginal gains – was key to Britain’s success at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, which each saw seven gold medals won on the track. France even complained Britain had a technological advantage in London, pointing to “magic wheels”.

Purnell’s appointment shows Team GB’s desire to continue to look for marginal gains, despite Boardman, who runs a successful bike company, stepping back from his role and Parker’s move to rugby union, where he is now working with the England team.

British Cycling performance director Sir Dave Brailsford said: “We are very fortunate to have someone of Tony’s experience and ability to work with the riders and coaching staff.

“We know that sustaining success is among sport’s greatest challenges and the recruitment of Tony is a significant step on the road to Rio.”