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Live data at the Tour de France

Garmin Virb XE cycling bundle
Josh Cunningham
5 Jul 2016

We take a look at the live data options available for Tour de France viewers, and how useful they really are.

Cycling is often branded as a boring sport to watch on television - dare we say it, highlighted by Monday's Stage 3 of the Tour de France - with hours of footage relaying slow moving pictures of anonymous riders, shot from the roadside, a motorbike or helicopter. In recent years the viewer has usually been granted the luxury of an odometer clicking down the kilometres on screen, as well as a display showing time gaps between groups on the road. That, until very recently, has been pretty much it. 

But as concerns for the fundaments of the sport's business model have grown, so too has its openness to change, and a number of initiatives have involved themselves in developing its consumer appeal - an item crucial to ongoing development. Velon, a business venture with the aim of increasing stability in cycling, is one such example, posting on-board video footage on a daily basis from major races (including the Tour, viewable here), as well as displaying live power and heart rate data, as we saw during the Tour de Suisse. 

As the Inner Ring has pointed out, the heart rate and power figures are in some ways meaningless as a standalone number, with rider weights, heart rate tendencies and states of fatigue all contributing to how indicative a number - be it in watts or bpm - might be of performance. But that said, to see the wattage of Andre Greipel in a sprint, or the heart rate of Chris Froome on a climb, would be interesting for a lot of viewers, so it's likely that these live figures, trialled at the Tour de Suisse by Velon, will be a part of Tour de France coverage in the future. 

The live data from the Tour de France is mostly channelled through Dimension Data, and can be seen at livetracking.letour.fr/#/stageprofile, as well as by following links through the Velon.cc website and app, called Velon Pro Cycling. While power and heart rate numbers are absent, the user does have the ability to track individual riders as the stage progresses, with live information about their speed, GC position, and distance from the front of the race. In the first few sprint stages this has proved only slightly beneficial, in that it has enabled the viewer to see just how much faster Rider X is than Rider Y when sprinting for stage victories. But come the mountain stages, when there are multiple groups on the road, and not enough cameras or on-screen visuals to give time gaps, this will prove a usuful function. 

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