As the Tour’s peloton busied itself with this year’s first road stage, we were more concerned about the moving cavalcade of bikes that allow the riders to do their jobs. BikeRadar stalked through the line of team buses, dodging harried mechanics, stressed PR folk and nervous pros to bring you the latest Tour tech.
While the GPS units weigh only 20-30g according to one team mechanic, the GoPro setups that at least one rider per team per day has to use weigh considerably more. There’s also the grams of drag to consider too, especially on a day that delivered on its promise of crosswinds, splitting the field and reshuffling the standings.
There were two GoPro configurations. The Tour organizers were experimenting with live GoPro footage during the neutral rollout. This meant extra batteries and a broadcasting aerial added to the GoPro in order to stream video for some riders like Europcar's Tommy Voeckler who then switched bikes before the actual racing started. The second setup was just the standard GoPro mount, used on 12 bikes.
Of the 12 selected riders, some were instructed to turn on their camera with around an hour’s racing to go, which could involve some sketchy reaching around in the peloton. GoPro officials put a rear-facing camera on Mark Renshaw's bike, hoping to get good leadout footage of Mark Cavendish winding up for the sprint. (Renshaw did lead Cav out, but Cav jumped too early and ended up fourth on the day.)
Lotto-Jumbo's Thomas Leezer had to put up with this on his bars – including aerial and extra battery pack — for the neutral rollout
The idea behind the GoPro partnership is to get on-the-bike footage out as soon as possible. GoPro has had success in this arena with its immediate upload of X Games videos for use by broadcasters. We’ll wait to see how this one 'plays' out.
Check out more Tour de France tech coverage at our Tour de France 2015 homepage.