By James Young, Performance Analytics Lead at Deloitte
Even those who won’t be watching this weekend’s Tour de Yorkshire will know that there’s more to cycling than riding a bike. When it comes to competitive cycling, race strategies make or break the team. With just milliseconds separating the winners and losers, performance directors are under pressure to make split-second decisions in the heat of the moment.
But with so many factors influencing the result – weather, crashes, riders breaking from the peloton – how can teams make sure these decisions are based on more than just guesswork? This weekend we’ll be helping Team Dimension Data (TDD) find a competitive advantage through our in-race technology solutions and try to become the first team to win in back-to-back years.
We've worked alongside TDD to develop a data analytics technology solution that can help the team to make critical decisions during a live race environment. This move towards #CyclingSmarter is centered on the creation of two applications, Deloitte Smart Map and Deloitte Race Monitor, which work together by collating and analysing open-source data. TDD’s sports director can see this data on an easy-to-use platform accessed using a tablet or laptop.
The apps analyse hundreds of different datasets, from athlete performance to competitor tactics and course conditions. Understanding what to do in all these varying scenarios is vital. What happens if there is a crash? What should the team do if certain riders break away from the peloton? What if it rains or the wind picks up? Our analytics tool allows TDD’s performance directors to track any changes and make fully informed, strategically driven decisions.
Winning on the world's biggest stage
The technology has been used at various tour events including last year’s Tour de France, where TDD produced one of the most memorable victories of 2017, with a little help from our smart cycling technology.
Stage 19 came down to a nine-rider duel on the last 3km stretch. After a 220km slog, the turning point of the race came at the final roundabout. The riders all went with their instinct and turned left, but TDD’s Edvald Boasson Hagen turned right, based on the data from Deloitte Smart Map communicated to team just moments before. Turns out it was the correct decision, as he immediately had a ten-metre advantage – all it required was a quick burst of pace and a sprint to the finish line to claim TDD’s first win of Le Tour.
Doug Ryder, team principal of TDD, commented: “Deloitte’s Smart Map tool has proved itself to be a game-changer for the team – and the proof is contributing to a historic stage win at the world’s biggest bike race.”