Using a black stick, Dimension Data is providing Tour de France viewers with real time data analytics for every rider

You may have noticed the black plastic stick jutting out from the back of riders saddle during the Tour de France and wondered what they are.

These are transmitters used by the Tour’s official technology partner Dimension Data – the company that sponsor’s the team of the same name – to collect real-time data from riders during the race.

Dan McLay Look 795 Aerolight tour de france bike dimension data transponder

First seen during the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2015 and the subsequent Tour, the collection device has been upgraded for 2016 to collect more data, including gradient, temperature and wind speed as well as a GPS tracker to give rider location and speed.

All data is received by Dimension Data’s big truck, where the raw numbers are transformed into meaningful stats.

The idea is that Dimension Data analyses the stats transmitted to provide viewers with enough data to enhance the viewing experience, as well as providing accurate position of all 198 riders for the calculation of time gaps.

So what does this all mean? It is not just broadcasters that have access to exactly where each rider is on the road at any given moment.

In addition to watching the stage on television, you can either go to the Dimension Data website or use the Tour de France app to track the riders’ position along with other data that may be of interest.

This article was updated for 2016

  • Jan Svarrer Sølvsten

    But so does the TDF – in fact they have mere 2 helicopters which both recieve the signals from the MC’s

    Just saying 🙂

  • Desbil

    You should feel sorry for Sean.He plays second fiddle to that smart Alec Carlton Kirby.Poor Sean .He is always on hand to catch the bait thrown by Mr. Kirby

  • Phillip Mercer

    I’m aware of that but I’m talking about providing some drama with live splits.

  • Insy

    They do report sector time or checkpoint timings on the TT’s

  • Chris

    Rubbish. It’s clearly a radio controlled hypodermic syringe with a massive needle coming up through one of these fashionable saddles with a gap in the middle. Controlled from the team directors car, the command “Attackez” is accompanied by a quick press on the R/C button, giving the rider/s a quick dose of go faster juice.
    I wonder how long it will take for the naysayers to pick up on this and start another doping rumour.

  • bod

    If David Millar could literally stop saying literally, literally every time he literally opens his mouth, then he literally may become literally worth listening to.

  • Phillip Mercer

    I wish that for time trial and team time trial they provided a comparison through the course. So when Dowsett, Martin and Cancellara were taking their turns you could compare it live to Dennis’ effort. Same deal with Movistar setting a time and then comparing BMC and Sky at the same point in the course. It would help time trialling be more marketable as a discipline that the majority want to watch.

  • Phillip Mercer

    Carlton is better than Phil and Paul in my opinion. Paul’s contribution about Chris Froome is that his great talent is the ability to turn the pedals… Well. Done.

  • J1

    Carlton is hilarious, even more so when he has either Matt Stephens or Dan Lloyd next to him. Sean Kelly has some decent knowledge though obviously, he laughed the other day too.

  • J1

    Yeah that’s a fair point, F1 has a lot more money to throw at these things too I suppose.

  • PavoFahrer

    Sean Kelly dull ? the man’s a Living Legend !!!

  • Jules Tipler

    The challenge is transmitting the images. F1 has a helicopter flying directly above the circuit for the entire race, the cameras simply have to transmit vertically up to the helicopter. I understand this would be a challenge (and expensive) to follow a peloton over such a wide area.

  • James Rider

    The Boulting/Millar duo was perfect and I wish they brought it back. I’m not the biggest fan of Ligget/Sherwen but they are streets ahead of the awful Carlton Kirby and the mind numbingly dull Sean Kelly!

  • captainPerfect

    They could improve the commentating on channel 24, ITV4. All these guys do is tell you what you can see, how old the churches are and other irrelevant moribund meanderings. Most of them seem to have been trained in the Clare Balding school of presenters.

    Why they have dropped David Millar I just don’t know. He just added so much knowledge and interest to the races. His knowledge of tactics and objectives were like a breath of fresh air when compared to the others.

  • J1

    It’s about time they did this, they could push on and do some better TV coverage now too e.g. lots of riders with cameras front and back and the ability to choose if you want to follow a certain rider. Basically, look at all the data and viewpoints you can get in F1 and copy it.

    The transmitters don’t look great, but I imagine that’s the smallest they could get them without sacrificing reliability.