By Staff Writer
Technology is permeating every part of our lives and in sport is changing how matches are played and watched.
Tech firm Dimension Data is introducing machine learning technologies at this year’s Tour de France to give cycling fans across the globe an unprecedented experience of this year’s event.
The race begins in Düsseldorf on Saturday and finishes at the Champs-Élysées in Paris on 23 July.
Dimension Data’s data analytics platform incorporates machine learning and complex algorithms that combine live and historical race data to provide even deeper levels of insight as the race unfolds.
Fans will also benefit from rider profiles to understand more about environments and circumstances in which riders perform best.
As part of a new pilot this year, A.S.O. and Dimension Data are exploring the role of predictive analytics technologies to assess the likelihood of various race scenarios, such as whether the peloton will catch the breakaway riders at certain stages of the race.
Scott Gibson, Dimension Data’s Group Executive – Digital Practice said, “As more technology is introduced into sport, the viewing experience is transforming, and its popularity increases. What’s especially exciting for us is how we’re helping A.S.O. to attract a new generation of digitally savvy fans, and how advanced technologies like machine learning are opening up new possibilities for providing the insights that today’s fans demand.”
At the core of the live tracking and data analytics solution are GPS transponders installed under the saddles of each bike. The data collected from these transponders is combined with external data about the course gradient and prevailing weather conditions to generate insights such as live speed and the location of individual riders, distance between riders, and composition of groups within the race.
This year, the solution will create and analyse over 3 billion data points during the 21 stages of the Tour, a significant increase from last year’s 128 million data points.
Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France, A.S.O. said, “Today, our followers want to be immersed in the event. They’re more digitally engaged on social media than ever before, and want a live and compelling second-screen experience during the Tour. Technology enables us to completely transform their experience of the race.”
The enhanced Tour de France solution uses a fully cloud-based, virtualised data centre, which provides scale, and means fewer people are required on the ground to enable the solution. The cloud also provides geographic flexibility because it can be managed from anywhere in the world. This year, Dimension Data’s technical teams work together across four continents via hyper-connected mobile collaboration hubs equipped with the latest digital and virtual workplace technologies.
Some Tour de France highlights include:
198 riders in 22 teams will generate over 150 million geospatial and environmental data readings along the 3,540km route.
The Tour de France live-tracking website, letour.fr, which supported an average of 2,000 page requests per second in 2016, has been enhanced to support 25,000 page requests per second this year.
In 2016, there were 6,100 hours of TV broadcasts in 190 countries across 100 channels globally. Thanks to A.S.O., the number of TV broadcast hours will increase from 80 in 2016 to 105 this year and the race will be broadcast starting from the first kilometre of every stage.
Cybersecurity is a top priority for the Tour de France. During the 2016 race, Dimension Data’s cloud-based security system flagged 1,409,769 suspicious access attempts, which were blocked.