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Behind the scenes of Dimension Data’s rider tracking at the Tour de France

On the eve of the 2015 Tour de France, the Tour’s owners – ASO – and the race’s new technology partner – Dimension Data – announced a collaboration that would allow the broadcast of real-time location data from riders within the race. CyclingTips editor Matt de Neef caught up with Dimension Data’s Technical Program Lead for the project, Peter Gray, to learn more about the technology, its potential and how the roll-out is going so far.

When time gaps at the Tour de France are currently shown during live broadcasts, those gaps are based on the position of TV motorbikes filming the various groups on the road. In some situations, this data can be unreliable (when a TV moto is out of position, for example) or simply unavailable (when there isn’t a TV moto with a particular group, for example).

Given time-gap data is crucially important to the viewing experience, some fans and social media commentators tend to lament the absence or inaccuracy of timing information. But if Dimension Data and the ASO are able to achieve everything they have planned, they’ll have a solution that could be of benefit not just to viewers but to commentators and other stakeholders alike.

In a collaboration between the 22 teams of Le Tour, ASO and Dimension Data, the bike of every rider in the 2015 edition of the race is fitted with a GPS transponder. These weather-proof units, made by HIKOB , weigh 80 grams and are mounted underneath the saddle.

The data pipeline

As Peter Gray told CyclingTips, the system harnesses radio-frequency (RF) links that are already in place to transmit images for TV.

“The sensors that are attached to the bikes talk to each other, communicate through each other, but then there are relays attached to each of the television motorbikes and the official cars,” Gray said. “That signal gets transmitted up through a plane and down to the Euro Media truck.”

EuroMedia is a long-time partner... Source: Cycling Tips

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