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  • Whippet

    It is a bit disappointing that Dimension Data do not seem to have any clearer plans for the future. I was giving them the benefit of the doubt during the first year, thinking better things were coming. Think a mash-up of Procyclingstats.com and Strava. But in this article, Dimension Data do not articulate any vision beyond ‘more of the same’. Currently, the value added to the race and the website itself are underwhelming.

    • Owen

      How can you say that they have no clear plans for the future based on this article which is entirely talking about the “here and now”?

      • Whippet

        Obviously you didn’t read until the end of the article mate!

        • Owen

          Do you mean this part?

          “Incorporating power and heartrate data into the existing system would different or additional technology but, more importantly, it would also require buy-in from every team in the race.”

          Or do you mean this part?

          “Within Dimension Data and ASO, though, there’s considerable excitement about the new collaboration and the potential it might have when it comes to riders’ speed and position data. Both organisations were also keen to stress that this year’s Tour is only the first race in a five-year collaboration between the two organisations.”

          Or do you mean this part?

          “Pascal Queirel told CyclingTips “The important thing is to say that this is the beginning of the story.””

          I’m not sure I follow what you’re getting at. All this information indicates that this is the first year of a five year project and improvements will be made.

          • Whippet

            The issue is that any improvements are not specified. The only ideas that they mention are including more details of the timing of breakaways. There is much more being done with amateur cyclists. I can get heaps more data about my mates’ rides than of the pros in a grand tour. They have most of the data already. Why not start to integrate it? Like I said, using features like strava and procyclingstats.com.

            • Owen

              Your mates are OK sharing their data on Strava with you. Perhaps these multi-million dollar teams with TdF glory on the line aren’t keen on sharing similar data with the entire world… I don’t see this as a failing of the DD solution or of ASO in particular, this training data is highly personal and highly sensitive to the individual riders and their teams.

              • Whippet

                They have the data now (GPS &speed). They just don’t present it in a manner that allows much comparison or analysis.

                • Owen

                  … and you don’t think that maybe this has been done on purpose? They’re presenting new data to us, purposefully in a way in which it is difficult to analyse. They’re being very cautious about how much they reveal.

                  What I’m failing to understand from your point of view is what you actually want. Do you actually want DD/ASO to give you (and everyone else) access to an API/database of all the GPS data collected from the tour so you can download it and perform your own analysis?

              • Paul Jakma

                So highly sensitive that they’re broadcasting it 10m+ around them, to all their competitors, on unauthenticated, unencrypted ANT+.

                • Paul E.

                  This is an interesting point I also was thinking about. How long will it take before we see hacking enter the peloton? Especially with wireless electronic shifting on the horizon also. The limited range of the ANT+ senders would require a -rider- to always remain in proximity of the ‘target’. One can imagine a scenario where a rider sees the performance data of competitors to time his attack or block gear shifts.

                  • Paul Jakma

                    The wireless shifting will be secure. There are some trade-offs between convenience of setup and the overall security, and vendors might choose to err on the side of setup-convenience for the mass market products. However, for WT products at races with vendor support in attendance, they can err on the side of tight security.

                • Owen
                  • Paul Jakma

                    Not in any meaningful way – the key is shared with every other ANT+ device.

                    • Owen

                      Paul, if it were so easy to collect this data from other riders, why would DD and ASO even bother with all this telemetry malarky in the first place?

                      Who is going to stay within 10 metres of the top GC contenders at all times to collect their data via ANT+? Nobody. You’d have to BE one of the GC contenders!

                    • Paul Jakma

                      DD and ASO have to put a box on the bike because, as you hint at, who is going to stay with the rider? The box of course! With the box there, it can easily gather ANT+ telemetry. However, they are probably constrained by contractual arrangements from doing so – but technically it is trivial.

                      As for other competitors, if the HR and power data is as valuable as Sky claim then damn sure teams are already recording competitors data. GC contenders do tend to stick together, funnily enough. Even when not, if it’s useful to know how much power your competitor had to put in to make an attack – you could record that.

                      On the other hand, maybe teams aren’t doing this, because maybe there’s fuck all competitive value in knowing exactly how many hundreds of Watt Froome span up to to ride away from you. After all, the effect of this is quite obvious – you can *see* your competitor riding away.

                      Either way, this data is being broadcast by the riders, for anyone with a *tiny* recording device and within 10 metre or so to collect, and for others with larger, higher-gain directional antennas to collect from perhaps 50 metres to 100 metres away. If it *really* was /so/ critical this data stayed secret, then surely most of the teams wouldn’t be using devices that broadcast that data openly. However, they do, and so we can safely conclude that actually, no, it’s not really critical it stays secret and, no, there isn’t a competitive advantage from that secrecy. Further, several TdF riders quite openly post their data routinely, so…

      • ChrisJ

        I suspect this statement of Whippet has more of a political objective – i.e. getting at Dimension Data – as the company is receiving huge publicity and showing its dedication to the sport and innovation in general.

    • Billy

      The internet is also a fad that will pass. We’ll also stop shopping for food and go back to a paleo style diet of eating the dead and decaying flesh of an animal. The Dimension Data offering is to cycling fans what carrion is as a food source is for large carnivores and omnivores.

      I like progress.

      • Whippet

        A diet based on what they currently offer would allow mean to get as lean as Nairo Quintana!

    • As Owen mentions, the piece is about the roll-out and how the tech works. I asked about the long-term vision but both Peter and Pascal were firmly focused on getting things right with the current system and then going from there. As I mention though, both are very excited about the potential that this collaboration has and while the roll-out has taken longer than some expected, I think in the long-run it will turn out to be a valuable addition to cycling coverage.

  • SeanMcCuen

    those thingys hanging off the saddles ain’t worth it.

  • SeanMcCuen

    well isn’t that cute.

  • Peter


    Imagine if the DS could feed positional/speed data from a rival rider back to a chasing rider on a unit like a Garmin. It could include calculations like required speed/power output to catch the rider at a certain point.

    A Time Trialler could be fed current vs required pace to match the current fastest rider’s effort.

    A rider in front could be fed how fast his chasers are approaching and how much effort he needs to put in to stay in front of them.

    Riders could be informed how far in front or behind a fellow team member or team car is travelling from their position – for wheel changes etc.

    I doubt these ideas would get UCI approval, but it leads one to believe that there are applications for this data which have not yet been thought of.

    Are we entering a new era of riding by numbers?

    • I think bike racing is too unpredictable and erratic for that type of real-time analysis and action. If you see how many times the breakaways are caught with a few hundred meters remaining, you’ll know how well Chapatte’s Law works!

  • Peter

    Even better, broadcasters could use the Dimension Data trackers with something like AirDog drones (www.airdog.com) to pinpoint groups of riders or even individual riders and track them as the race progresses, sending video up to the choppers above for transmission to the world.

    We could sit in our lounge rooms and watch the progress of our favourite riders for the entire race in a multi-screen setup on our TVs.
    One screenlet for Contador, One for Froome, another for Degenkolb, or whoever else we want to follow etc.

    The logistics of hundreds of little drones buzzing over the riders would be a nightmare though, but maybe the host broadcaster could use three or four drones to add to the moto and chopper images?

    • Now that would be cool! If only batteries lasted more than a few minutes.

    • Sean Doyle

      I’d rather spend all that money on new bike gear and trips. We already have a ridiculous amount of coverage and camera angles. It’s starting to detract from the event itself. Too perverse.

    • Dave

      I would settle for the ASO world feed caught up to using their existing moto and heli cams as well as the RCS world feed did during the Giro d’Italia. The split-screen feeds were a genuine game-changer on the Giro stages where there were stage contenders and GC riders spread all over the road.

      The next step would be for SBS to go split-screen for their ad breaks like NASCAR does in the USA, they would get more eyeballs on ads (therefore more revenue and more money to spend) if the race was occupying a ? width box on the left of screen.

  • David

    I forsee potential to use this data to shape race tactics. Who doesn’t hit the red zone on a climb by starting at the front of the pack and finishing at the rear. Who is after the strava kom by doing the reverse? At what point will rider x be dropped based on similar climbs? And who is the secret pro?

  • Derek Maher

    This project has merits.Although comfort breaks might scew the data ?.Constant punctures may effect some tyre manufactures sales as we count the stops and also I can see some of the old timers in the commentry boxes getting even more confused than at present.Still when the developers sort the bugs out it will add another facet to watching the stage races.

  • Kenneth Sanders

    It’s great that cycling is finally doing something that resembles the 21st century. Rider data will get better in the coming years; however, in today’s world at least provide in car audio of the teams communicating with the riders, race radio, better video footage, etc.. The technology is here to do all of this NOW but somehow we are left with crapy video footage and very poor commentating. Also the broadcasting of races is becoming more and more scarce particularly here in the States. Almost all online feeds are being blocked or only transmitted in other countries. If cycling wants to grow then loosen the FUCK up and grow the sport instead of making it more difficult to gain access.

    • PhilBoogie

      “…and very poor commentating”

      I missed a few stages and thought I’d simply watch them online. As I only found it in 360p I then torrent it from a NBC source, in 1080p. Good grief, poor Americans. What a crap experience that was. Instead of broadcasting the Tour they were constantly switching to ‘the studio’, where we are treated to viewing the commentators (an ex referee and someone else) who don’t know much about cycling. Not giving much background info on the riders, on the technique, and certainly not making it an educational viewing, with their misinformation. In stage 2, the riders went from Utrecht to Zeeland in The Netherlands; which they referred to as the North (which is the South). The kept on showing how bad the weather was at the finish line, instead of showing how the riders were doing.

      I did see a small portion of that stage on Eurosport. which was cut differently. Way more views on the riders and not on the weather and the studio each channel has at the finish. NBC, what a crap experience. The constant commercial brakes didn’t help of course.

      • Kenneth Sanders

        Welcome to the wonderful world of cycling in the US. Having all of the new technology such as speed, heart rates, power, etc. is nice but if you can’t provide a user friendly broadcast then what’s the point of having anything at all.

  • Kenneth Sanders

    Sorry for the F bomb!

  • I did this a few years ago on the Tour Down Under with most of Green Edge and UniSA as described at http://blog.urremote.com/2012/02/adventures-tracking-bicycle-racing-why.html. Without Matt White’s enthusiasm we couldn’t have got trackers on any of the bikes but you need all the bikes to understand the race. It seemed getting everyone onside would be more difficult than overcoming the technical issues so they have done well to get most bikes instrumented.

    The functionality is cruder than it was years ago though. We had heart rate, power, odometry and GPS data. We did speed from odometry. GPS is too inaccurate over short distances so I see the speed jumping around more than it actually is when they occasionally overlay it on the broadcast. Odometry data needs to be used to improve positional accuracy as well. We didn’t get that far but it is badly needed as the bikes jump around too much relative to nearby bikes to get a sense of what is happening within a group. I’m watching Quintana jump in front of Froome and then behind, then in front and it is nothing like that on the road. The web page updates every 10 secs which is too jumpy. Interpolating in the browser for smooth continuous movement would be easier to watch. I feel the quality of the data is poorer than is suggested in this article and the delay even at its best is greater than the SBS telecast. The quality is not high enough to follow the race, particularly as the data drop outs are severe. This suggests the private data network they have built has significant problems. As well, it requires major supporting infrastructure that is unavailable for smaller races. We used the telco network which suffers when there is a big crowd but I was surprised that our low bandwidth data was still getting through when network congestion made phone calls and general internet use impossible. This effort is interesting but we are seeing the alpha version rather than the beta.

    There are many exciting possibilities, for example live race data could generate virtual video at low cost so that it becomes affordable to broadcast smaller races that can’t justify the expense of helicopters and other infrastructure.

  • Just saying.

    Not so sure I’d like being a pro with a low power, high frequency, transmitter, constantly on, that close to my prostate. Race day after race day. Just saying.


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