New Technology And Partnerships Changing The Tour de France Viewing Experience
July 23, 2015
If you haven’t been following the Tour de France over the past few weeks, you’ve been missing out on unprecedented footage of the race from inside the peloton. Although a few teams were granted special exemptions by the International Cycling Union (UCI) at last year’s Tour, this is the first year that each stage has been covered comprehensively by on-bike cameras, bringing viewers into the action and capturing images in a way that was not possible previously in the most prestigious of cycling’s Grand Tours.
Thanks to a new partnership between Velon and GoPro, and in cooperation with TdF organizer Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), eleven WorldTour teams have been filming the Tour using handlebar and seatpost-mounted HERO4 cameras. Touted as GoPro’s most advanced camera ever, capturing 4K Ultra HD video, the quality of footage from inside one of the world’s most grueling competitions has been nothing short of breathtaking. Viewers can access content, at no charge, on Velon’s website and social media platforms as well as through GoPro’s YouTube channel.
For professional cycling, this acceptance of entertainment-enhancing technology is an important step towards generating new excitement and engagement for a sport that has experienced significant setbacks in recent years. While onboard cameras have long been a part of motorsports and amateur cycling, the UCI has been slow to welcome the technology to its pro races.
So why the change of heart? Much of the credit belongs to Velon, a joint commercial venture comprised of eleven UCI WorldTour cycling teams that was formed in late 2014. The organization’s mission is to stabilize the economic future of professional cycling, and one of the founding principles of the organization is to bring a new level of excitement to the fans through the use of new technology. By partnering with GoPro, Velon has made impressive progress in its goal to “bring fans closer to the riders, races and teams.”
Not all teams have been supportive of Velon and its corporate approach to economic stability in the sport of cycling. Europcar manager Jean-René Bernaudeau told the French newspaper L’Équipe that he is against turning cycling into “a pro-style NBA league.” However, he and other traditionalists may be fighting a losing battle as the more forward-thinking teams embrace the Velon approach, understanding the need to deliver the adrenaline that fans want.
If you’ve missed most of the Tour de France, don’t worry. You can view highlights online, and Velon and GoPro are committed to covering races for the duration of the 2015 season.
In addition to being a freelance writer, Stacey Moses is also the president of Blue Sea Creative, a marketing and communications agency based in the DC area. Stacey is an outdoor enthusiast, a Pittsburgh Penguins devotee, and has more than a decade of experience in the sports marketing world.
Image by SportTechie