Technology to support an ambitious climbBlog
Seeing data as a competitive advantage
Data has changed professional cycling in a whole range of ways. It’s changing the viewing experience, the athlete’s experience, and management’s experience.
In this sense, Team Dimension Data is one of the most advanced, forward-thinking teams on the WorldTour. They’re combining technology and data with their skills and experience to optimise their performance in several areas: strategy, rider selection, training, and management.
As one of their technology sponsors, we deal with the Team as a business and see ourselves as a partner in that business. Our goal is to use our expertise in business and the best technologies available, to develop tools that will help them perform at their best.
We work with Team Dimension Data to develop technology solutions that help to optimise performance in several areas
Powerful analytics power decision-making
In racing, as in business, if you don’t make the right decisions at the right time, you could lose your competitive edge. Data can give you a significant advantage if you can capture it, analyse it, and apply it to make smarter decisions.
One of the interesting challenges we have in doing this is that the data we use comes from a whole range of different places. We need to bring it all together, simplify the complexity, and present the information in a way that’s easy to understand.
A key part of data analysis is knowing what information to provide, and when. The last thing we want to do is overload people with a whole ton of data.
So, a lot of the work we do with the Team is about us understanding their business. What are the factors that affect their performance and results? What information do they need to make better decisions about training and team preparation? How can they stay connected when people are dispersed all over the world and constantly on the move?
Understanding the business of the Team is the starting point of any technology development
Only then do we explore ways to distil all the data that’s available into simple but important metrics, visualisations, or indicators that can help riders, management, coaches, and support staff to take the right action at the right time.
Building the best team
For example, we’ve built a model that combines a statistical analysis of racing and rider histories with machine learning to help the directeurs sportifs to identify the riders best suited to different races, and which combination of riders will have the greatest likelihood of success in a race.
Combining this analysis with information from the coaches about the form of each rider helps management to make the best decisions to get the best results on race day.
We are also able to use analytical modelling to understand where the best opportunities are to win Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) points, so we can target those races with the strongest teams.
Ready to race
Some of the fascinating work we’re continuing to develop with Internet of Things (IoT) technology is using sensors and transmitters on the bike to capture data such as a rider’s location, speed, cadence (pedaling speed), heart rate and power output. We can then transmit this information directly, live, to the directeur sportif or coach, so they can manage race strategies or adjust training programs on the fly.
This information, combined with the data from the Phila health and wellness app, and the Hang hydration and nutrition app, also helps coaches and support staff to prepare riders physically and mentally so they can turn up ready to race.
Team Dimension Data takes a forward-thinking approach to using technology in all areas of team performance
We love the sport and are huge supporters of the Qhubeka initiative, so it’s been amazing to have been a part of the Team Dimension Data journey over the last five years. We’ve been able to work in a challenging but inspiring environment where we can try new things and develop new ideas. The Team is really excited about doing even more great things with technology and data in the next five years.
So are we.