Big data comes to the Tour de France

Live GPS tracking and analysis for all riders, plus GoPro cameras on certain bikes

For the first time in Tour de France history, all riders racing in this year’s event have GPS transponders on their bikes, with the live data streaming to Tour organizers thanks to technology group Dimension Data.

Each rider has a transponder mounted to his saddle rails. This will be used by every rider for every stage of the Tour.

The data collected from this will include:

  • the stage winner’s top speed, average speed and time per kilometer
  • the fastest riders up key climbs
  • the speed of the winner at the finish line
  • the top speed achieved by a rider on the day
  • average speed across all riders

“The technology will allow cycling fans to follow the race in ways they’ve never been able to before,” Dimension Data executive chairman Jeremy Ord said in a press release. “Until now it was difficult to understand what was happening outside of what could be shown on the live television coverage. The ability to follow riders, get accurate information about which riders are in a group, and see real-time speed are just some of the innovations that will be realized through this solution.”

Transponders are assigned by team and rider number: transponders are assigned by team and rider number
Transponders are assigned by team and rider number: transponders are assigned by team and rider number

Each rider has his own GPS transponder for the Tour 

Dimension Data is also offering a Daily Data Wrap analysis package, which you can sign up for here

Should a rider need to change bikes during a stage, teams are required to notify race officials, as the bikes also have a timing chip on them needed for scorekeeping. In this case, that rider's GPS transponder almost certainly won't be transferred to the space bike as time will be at a premium for the racers. But in between stages when riders change from time trial bikes to their standard race bikes to perhaps an endurance bike for stage four's cobbles, the transponders will go with them.

In related news, GoPro and Tour organizers ASO have partnered this year to deliver GoPro footage from bikes, team cars and more. There will be 12 GoPro Hero4 Black cameras that are used on bikes throughout the race, with each team having at least one rider using one at some point.

GoPro and tour organizer aso struck a deal to put action cameras on bikes for use in aso broadcasts and elsewhere: gopro and tour organizer aso struck a deal to put action cameras on bikes for use in aso broadcasts and elsewhere
GoPro and tour organizer aso struck a deal to put action cameras on bikes for use in aso broadcasts and elsewhere: gopro and tour organizer aso struck a deal to put action cameras on bikes for use in aso broadcasts and elsewhere

12 GoPro cameras will be making their rounds on various bikes throughout the race

Last year was the first time ASO allowed videocameras to be used on bikes during the race, and Shimano leapt at the opportunity with its CM-1000 videocamera used on Shimano-sponsored team bikes.

Check out more Tour tech at our Tour de France 2015 homepage.

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team, Trek Boone 5, Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4, Marinoni fixed gear, Santa Cruz Roadster TT bike
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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