Team Dimension Data: always moving forwardBlog
Vision 2020 firmly in our sights
2018 was a tough year for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka. We had a run of bad luck with injuries, the likes of which we had never seen before, and this had a major impact on our performance. With 11 riders out at one stage, we had to deal with our fair share of disappointment. But I’m proud to say that we pulled together as a team and, looking ahead, we still have big dreams and remain focused on our Vision 2020 campaign.
Now more than ever, we’re putting everything we have into achieving our goal of seeing an African rider wearing the Yellow Jersey at the Tour de France in 2020. Alongside that is our target of distributing 100,000 bicycles for the Qhubeka charity.
Not your mainstream team
African cycling hasn’t really been a part of pro cycling in the last decade, so a lot of what we’re doing is about igniting interest in what was previously seen as a European sport. We have an incredible culture of developing, promoting, and nurturing African riders, and giving them an opportunity to showcase their talent in world cycling.
We’ve tried to change the game a bit by offering our riders long-term contracts to build loyalty. We also help them build their individual brands, and leverage our network of partners and sponsors, to build a foundation for their future careers.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka is moving forward to achieve great things
Riding for a greater purpose has kept us motivated and grounded – we’re not just here to ‘look good in Lycra’. Everyone on the Team remains loyal to this vision, as do our sponsors and partners.
Leading the digital revolution in pro cycling
Cycling is a tech-heavy sport, so having technology partners that not only support our vision but also have the skills and infrastructure to help us find ways of using technology to achieve it has been incredible.
We’ve been able to leverage technology to make smarter, better informed decisions quicker to give our riders the best advantage we can.
With so much credible data coming into our coaching environment, we know exactly where our riders are at – both geographically and in terms of their performance and wellness. Phila, our health and wellness app, has evolved from helping us communicate better and address issues remotely to becoming a tool that helps us drive performance through data.
I honestly don’t know of any other team that’s been so progressive in using technology to gain a competitive advantage. Our partnership with Dimension Data has given us access to all kinds of innovations, as well as to other organizations that understand and support what we want to achieve.
An ecosystem of innovation
Through our technology partners, we have an ecosystem of innovation that contributes to the Team’s performance in every area. The apps we use are just as integral to the Team as our cycling kit.
… for identifying talent
We were the first WorldTour team to partner with the Zwift Academy to identify talented young riders and develop them through the Continental development squad.
… for staying connected
The Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE) Rainbow platform allows everyone on the Team to connect with each other over our own, secure network. We have routers with dual SIMs in all our vehicles, which means we can access information faster and act like a Formula One pit stop team if there’s something we need to attend to on the road.
… for preparation and performance
We literally drive 3,500km of the Tour de France to recce every stage. We focus on every detail – the altitude, the gradient of a climb – and feed this information back to the riders so they can train for the stages we think they would be most likely to do well in. On the day of the race, we factor in information like the weather conditions and where the other teams are so we’re as well prepared as possible.
To enhance our training and performance strategies, we’re collaborating with Garmin to see how we can use insights from their wearable technology, and we’re developing metrics with the sports training and management platform, Today’s Plan.
Having over 70 people looking at data for 27 riders helps us take the guesswork out of race strategy and preparation
… for managing logistics
There is no team in any other sport that participates in more events than we do in pro cycling. Our riders are in races for about 90 days of the year and the rest of the time they’re training and conditioning themselves for the races they’re focusing on that season.
We often follow a dual program, which means we can be racing in two parts of the world at the same time – you can imagine the logistics of keeping this all together. Technology has really helped with this, too.
Through Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE), we have smart tags we can attach to all our gear so we can locate any of our assets at any given moment. All the information is sent to the cloud and is available through the Rainbow platform. It’s so important that we get this right, because without the right gear in the right place at the right time, all those hours of training and careful planning just go straight out the window.
The logistical challenges of managing a pro cycling team are considerable
Technology presents some amazing opportunities for us to power new experiences within the Team and connect with our fans. We have worked closely as a team and with our sponsors through some very tough times, and I believe we have built an amazing foundation for the future.
In isiZulu, Qhubeka means ‘to move forward … and that’s exactly what we’ll keep doing.