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The Tour de France publicity caravan drives past spectators . Picture: REUTERS
The Tour de France publicity caravan drives past spectators . Picture: REUTERS

In the Tour de France, the white jersey – first introduced in 1975 – is awarded to the under-26 rider who completes the race in the fastest time. It might not be as coveted as the maillot jaune or yellow jersey, but the award has certainly played a role in attracting a younger audience.

And since partnering with the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), the organiser of the Tour de France in 2015, Dimension Data has helped engage the new generation of young fans. The age group between 18 and 35 now make up 73% of the Tour de France’s 6.5-million-strong social media audience.

As the official technology partner of the Tour de France, Dimension Data has consistently innovated to transform the viewing experience of the world’s biggest cycling event through the use of technology, videos and data storytelling – and this year will be no different.

Thanks to this partnership, the ASO has already seen impressive results across all its digital platforms. Visits to the website have increased by 15% year on year, and Tour de France online video views have risen from 6-million in 2014 to 71-million in 2017. This reflects the growing trend of younger audiences favouring digital content over traditional broadcasts, as they provide a more immersive experience of the iconic race.

Dimension Data analyses more than 150-million data points per Tour de France stage to produce the all-important race insights, and uses these analytics to create daily real-time data visualisations on official social channels such as @letourdata.

This year, the television broadcast will also air these social data snippets for the first time. Dimension Data first introduced machine learning to predict the outcomes of the race in 2017. The company will also apply the power of predictive analytics in protecting the data against cyber-attacks.

Attracting more than 9.1-million visitors each year, the Race Centre platform lets fans track the position and speed of their favourite cyclists. They can also access the real-time effects of variables such as route terrain and weather conditions, and be privy to highly accurate predictions such as stage favourites, the estimated time of arrival at key points in the race, and when the peloton is likely to catch the breakaway group.

ON THE RISE: The peloton climbs the Val Louron-Azet pass during the 168.5km ninth stage of the Tour de France on Sunday. Picture: REUTERS
ON THE RISE: The peloton climbs the Val Louron-Azet pass during the 168.5km ninth stage of the Tour de France on Sunday. Picture: REUTERS

Dimension Data has also harnessed the collective creativity of its 28,000 global employees for ideas that will fuel the fan-experience roadmap. This has inspired creative visions of innovation, from augmented reality 3D mappings and enhanced algorithms to predicting the outcomes of the race with even greater accuracy.

Julien Goupil, ASO media director, said: “Since becoming the official technology partner of the Tour de France in 2015, Dimension Data has had a major influence on the increased digitisation of race data. The event is a source of great national pride in France that needs to be protected and nurtured for the enjoyment of future generations. It is extremely encouraging to see the increasing number of younger fans we are engaging across our digital channels.”

Scott Gibson, executive for digital business solutions for Dimension Data, added: “The Tour de France is a complex event. It is not based in a stadium, so the logistical challenges involved are significant. That’s what makes achieving this outcome for the ASO so challenging, but also exciting.

“Our mobile data centre and predictive analytics platform, combined with an incredibly passionate team, is really the driving force behind the innovation that we bring to the Tour every year. Often in the middle of nowhere, dealing with adverse weather conditions, we are proud to be able to produce instant and accurate real-time analytics and content that helps fans better understand, follow and enjoy the race.”

The 105th edition of the Tour de France starts on July 7 2018 in Noirmoutier-en-l'Île, Western France, and finishes on the Champs-Élysées, Paris, on July 29 2018.

Visit Dimension Data and the Amaury Sport Organisation for more information.

This article was paid for by Dimension Data.

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