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The Tour de France has always been about the fans, who today make up a global audience of millions. In addition to those who line the roads of the world’s largest connected stadium every year, more than 150 million people follow the race broadcast each year and 30 million track the race on digital channels.
Of course, the way people consume information has changed since the first race and even the first live television broadcast. Recognizing that the demands of fans aren’t static, the Tour de France race organizers, Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.), have evolved their offerings to bring the race to people in new ways.
For the last nine years, we’ve worked with A.S.O. to develop innovative ways to introduce new fans to the world’s greatest cycling race and enable existing fans to experience the action in new and exciting ways.
Connecting data streams for a new perspective
Data has become integral to fan engagement in many different sports. During an INDYCAR race, for example, it’s used to show detailed analyses of lap times and predict when pit stops will happen. For fans of the Tour de France, seeing real-time data and data-driven stories has truly transformed their understanding of the race.
The foundation of these data-driven fan experiences is our real-time data platform where we have created a digital twin of every rider. Gathering data from the riders and augmenting that with additional data such as local weather, our machine-learning models generate detailed insights that feed into all race channels, including the live broadcast, apps and social media.
Our Race Center is the hub of all information coming from the race. Here, fans can track the progress of the race and see team strategies unfold in real time: is a team sending riders back to support their GC challenger or ensuring their sprinter makes it to the finish line within the time limit? These insights are also used to add color and depth to the television broadcast and commentary to enrich the viewing experience.
This year, we’re deepening our collaboration with Strava, an app and social media platform for tracking physical activity. By connecting insights from their platform with the data from the riders, we’re able to highlight how the performances of this year’s peloton compare with other professional and amateur riders. Our experience from last year shows that when the Tour rolls into town, records tumble!
WATCH | Edge to fans: data and insights power the Tour de France
A new Fantasy League for a new league of fans
In addition to following the progress of the race, the data we collect powers the Tour de France Fantasy League. Being able to pit their insights against the likely outcome of the day’s stage and the final result provides fans with another level of engagement. They can compete against friends, colleagues and other fans to pick the best possible team from the peloton, and our insights into the strengths of the riders and our predictions of who is likely to do well help the fans make their best choices.
Last year saw the first edition of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, and we were able to deliver the same level of data analytics as in the men’s race – something that has never been done for any Women’s World Tour event before. The insights that we provide to fans have highlighted how fast the fan base of women’s cycling is growing, with entirely new demographics joining in.
Support for the women’s race exceeded all expectations last year, and we’re certain that this year’s race will build on that foundation. Fans can look forward to A.S.O. launching a Fantasy League for the Le Tour Femmes, enhancing the levels of engagement around the premier race on the Women’s World Tour.
Our aim isn’t simply to enhance the online experience. We’re continuing to work with A.S.O. to deliver information to fans wherever they are. This includes the fans on the side of the road, who can follow the race through a dedicated app so that when their heroes pass by, they’re just an arm’s length away – something that’s not found in any other professional sport.
Following the announcement last year of the integration of NTT Ltd. and NTT DATA to create a USD 30 billion IT services powerhouse, our technology partnership with both the Tour de France and Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift now falls under the NTT DATA brand. Our purpose is to transform businesses for success, disrupt industries for good and shape a better society for all.
Follow our @LeTourData channel on Twitter to get all the latest data and insights from this year’s Tour de France and Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift.