SASwomenteam

Putting data in the saddle: How analytics drive innovation in pro cycling

SAS teams with sport performance power measurement provider 4iiii Innovations and high end bike manufacturer Argon 18 to raise the game for a UCI women’s cycling team.

By: Sylvie Tache, Marketing Manager SAS Canada

There are few spectacles in sport as riveting as a sprint finish in a road cycling race. Dozens or hundreds of kilometers come down to a 200-metre dash reaching speeds of up to 70 km/h, as many as eight or 10 riders pushing the boundaries of physical exertion. It’s not a matter of inches, but fractions of seconds—a perfectly timed half-crank of a pedal, a literal “throw” of the chassis—that make the difference between a stage win and a “same time.”

But road cycling is also a team sport, a sport of specialists playing their roles with split-second timing in support of an overall strategy for a stage, a tour, even a season. Climbers force the issue on hilly stages, exhausting competitors who try to keep touch; domestiques, junior riders, create a draft to minimize the effort of the star finishers (or you can use leader), dropping back to fetch water bottles and even giving up their bikes to senior riders with a flat or mechanical issue; all-rounders (“rouleurs”, in French, the language of cycling) chase down opponents’ breakaways, set up sprinters for the final mad dash, and serve as on-course captains when quick tactical decisions have to be made. Each specialty rewards different riding styles, different performance metrics, even different physiques. Collecting and analyzing this data can help a team fit together the pieces of the strategic puzzle in a way that optimizes the use of team resources for a competitive edge.

SAS Cycling Team in the beach

That’s exactly the approach taken by SAS-MAGOCEP-ACQUISIO (SMA), the only professional Canadian women’s team with a license to race internationally, on the UCI Women’s World Tour.  SMA is using state-of-the-art sensors and analytics software to fuel its rise though international (UCI) cycling ranks, with eyes fixed firmly on the coming 2020 Olympic Games.

Three years ago, the team embarked on a path to performance optimization built around three pillars:

  • Ultra-lightweight Gallium-Pro and E-118 Next bicycles from Montreal-based Argon 18, incorporating design innovations that deliver maximum aerodynamic performance, stiffness and precise handling;
  • PRECISION power meters (4iiii Innovations Inc. a Cochrane, Alberta-based company) a Bluetooth and ANT+ wireless sensor that transmits power data to a handlebar-mounted computer by Polar, which incorporates physiological data from wearable technology like heart-rate monitors and GPS geographical to paint a picture of athlete performance while adding only nine grams of weight to the bicycle—a critical consideration given the goal of barely exceeding the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) minimum weight of 6.8 kg;
  • Sports analytics software from SAS, which collects extensive data on rider performance, physiological and psychological data, and more, allowing coaches, trainers and the athletes themselves to discover patterns and connections to develop training plans and support strategic decisions.
SAS UCI Women's Cycling team Canada
“Most of the decisions by the team management, coaches and athletes were based on feelings and sensations… with all of the sophisticated sensors, technology, and knowledge, today’s analytics is way more sophisticated than it used to be. For a cycling team, this is gold.” Pascal Hervé, Mentor of the team, retired French professional rider.

Getting athletes and coaches to share that sensitive data for analysis by an outside firm like SAS can be difficult, says Martin Lesauteur, who collects, cleans and preps data for analytics for the team.

“If you look at the Tour de France, nobody’s sharing anything,” Lesauteur says. Data can be used as a weapon—collect enough of it and you can reverse-engineer the athlete, probing weaknesses to be exploited. SAS’s relationship with SMA—it’s the team’s biggest sponsor in terms of technology and cash investment—provides a level of comfort for everyone involved.

A self-described “obsessive-compulsive cyclist” — “I’m so scared that when I die, my wife is going to sell my bikes for what I told her I paid for them,” he grimaces—Lesauteur has been collecting and analyzing data about his own cycling performance for years. He brings a wealth of self-taught expertise to the sophisticated tools on offer from SAS and 4iiii (as well as roadside mechanical expertise at some races).

Correlating performance data, physiological data, and profiles of upcoming races can optimize a rider’s training plan. It can also help ward of the insidious threat of overtraining—athletes can drive themselves beyond the point where their muscles and aerobic systems can recover for upcoming races. One SMA rider’s overtraining pattern cost her a month on wheels, and several months until full recovery. The data was pointing to overtraining, but the athlete didn’t feel it physically until it was too late.

“That’s an example of measuring an athlete on an individual basis, but the impact on the team was huge because she was one of our best athletes, and we lost her for three weeks to a month,” says Lesauteur.

And the program is about the team as much as it’s about individual racers. Data can help the team make roster decisions for a given race to give the team the best chance to win. Power output, revolutions per minute, heart rate, GPS data, fatigue, pedaling cadence, watt-to-weight ratio—all this data and more is poured into training profiles and race-day decisions, says rider Emma Bedard.

“If you have a specific type of race, for instance if you know it’s a hilly race versus a flat race, or whether it’s an endurance event versus a shorter punchy race, it helps select the type of athletes that are perhaps better-suited than others for certain courses,” says Bedard, a former triathlete who switched to full-time cycling because of a nagging hip injury.

Data can match the right racer to the right terrain with the right fatigue curve, helping determine the role of each athlete within an overall race strategy, says SMA coach David Duluth. For example, the data can pick out a racer capable of endurance riding, but not at peak speed, and pair her as a “leadout” rider for a sprinter, pulling her teammate to that crucial juncture where she can take over the race. On the other hand, data can identify that top-speed rider to put at the end of the leadout train.

Data can also help guide recruitment efforts, says Lesauteur. It can identify riders to fill specific roles—a sprinter, a climber, a junior rider to be groomed for a starring role while serving as a domestique. The team can then focus on promising additions to add depth or complement other riders and the team as a whole.

It’s a far cry from 20 years ago, says Pascal Hervé, a retired French professional rider who serves as a mentor to the team. Hervé has an impressive European road racing resume, with multiple appearances in the Tour de France, Vuelta a España and Giro d’Italia, along with the 1992 Summer Olympics. In the 1990s and early 2000s, teams relied on hospital tests for maximum oxygen capacity (VO2 max) and lactate buildup. It could take days or weeks for test results to be returned, and they were analyzed by people who “did not have a clue” about cycling, Hervé says.

“Most of the decisions by the team management, coaches and athletes were based on feelings and sensations,” Hervé says. “With all of the sophisticated sensors, technology, and knowledge, today’s analytics is way more sophisticated than it used to be. For a cycling team, this is gold.”

Data touches virtually every element of a cycling team’s corporate strategy. On race day, though, it comes down to the riders. And while technology can provide feedback on a huge range of performance and physiological factors, one element still eludes measurement in real-time: the athlete’s psyche, how she reacts psychologically to fatigue, stress, race conditions, etc. Being able to quantify and monitor such information and overlay it on the data already collected could be a critical differentiator.

“One day, we’ll have a little device we can attach to the helmet,” says Lesauteur. “We’re not there yet.”

Full article found on www.sas.com

Precision_RED

4iiii Innovations releases Ride Ready PRECISION/Shimano FC-R9100

The much-anticipated turnkey pairing of the pros-choice PRECISION Powermeter and Shimano’s lightweight evolution of the FC-R9100 is here. The Dura-Ace FC-R9100 shaves a full 7 g. off its predecessor. At just 9g., totally waterproof PRECISION is the world’s lightest powermeter.

Product Development Lead Billy Chan says “this new product reflects the popularity of the Factory Install PRECISION on the FC-R9100 and the our dedication to making the latest innovations in sports technology easily accessible and highly affordable for a wide range of athletes.

White-capped 4iiii PRECISION PRO Powermeters distinguish podium-dominating World Tour teams Quick-Step Floors and Bora-hansgrohe at the Tour de France. 4iiii PRECISION technology is the same technology, but in a affordable single-side version.

The 4iiii Ride Ready option of the PRECISION Powermeter provides the lightest and lowest cost left-side powermeter on the Shimano Dura-Ace FC-R9100. Ride Ready options will be made available for $599.99 USD starting June 2017 online at 4iiii.com/PRECISION. Factory Install options are also available online for $399.99 USD. 

4iiii is a sports technology company based in Cochrane, Alberta at the threshold of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and in the heart of a recreational paradise. We are a team of engineers and athletes dedicated to improving individual performance through the development of highly accurate and easily accessed data delivery products.

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ShimanoR9100_BOTH_Animated_NEW

 

Download the official Ride Ready PRECISION/Shimano FC-R9100 Press Release (PDF)

For media inquiries:
Suzanne Hamilton
Marketing and Communications
800.218.3095 ext.200
pr@4iiii.com
4iiii.com

4iiii Innovations Inc
141 2nd Ave E
Cochrane, Alberta
T4C 2B9

 Follow 4iiii on Social Media:

Twitter @4iiiicom Instagram @4iiiicom Facebook /4iiiicom

Hashtag #PoweredBy4iiii #RideWithPRECISION

Fiiiit2

Fiiiit brings 4iiii PRECISION POWERMETER technology to Indoor Cycling

Fiiiit crank image

4iiii Innovations, a Cochrane, Alberta company, is bringing the same PRECISION powermeter technology used by World Tour cycling teams Quick-Step Floors and Bora-hansgrohe to the increasingly popular indoor cycling market. The waterproof PRECISION is also being used to train the crews of ORACLE TEAM USA in defence of yachting’s America’s Cup.

4iiii CEO Kip Fyfe comments that “we’re proud to offer PRECISION powermeter technology to enhance and personalize the indoor cycling experience. With the expertise of an inspired 4iiii team we’ve adapted the powermeter used by professional cyclists to indoor studio and home use. Now, any bike with a compatible bottom bracket can be a state of the art power bike.”

The Fiiiit powermeter measures the energy a rider produces. 4iiii Product Manager Brandon Riches notes that “accurate powermeters combined with high-level heart rate monitors such as our Viiiiva enable riders to monitor improvements in their fitness and strength as heart rates drop and watts increase.”

Indoor Cycling merges community, cycling, music and professional instruction in an intense workout that burns 300–500 calories an hour.

4iiii Innovations is a major force in running and on/off road cycling, offering a full range of industry leading products including Fiiiit, PRECISION and PRECISION PRO powermeters, Viiiiva heart rate monitors and the Sportiiii performance coach.

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For media inquiries:

Suzanne Hamilton
Marketing and Communications
800.218.3095
800.218.3095 Ext. 200 
pr@4iiii.com
4iiii.com

4iiii Innovations Inc
228 River Ave
Cochrane, AB CAN
T4C 2C1

 Follow 4iiii on Social Media:

Twitter @4iiiicom Instagram @4iiiicom Facebook /4iiiicom

Hashtag #PoweredBy4iiii #RideWithPRECISION

©Sam Greenfield/ORACLE TEAM USA

A Canadian sports technology Company is helping to power ORACLE TEAM USA to America’s Cup victory

Oracle Ad

 

FOR RELEASE February 22, 2017

4iiii Innovations, a Cochrane, Alberta Company, will be aboard ORACLE TEAM USA’s hydro-foiling catamaran when the sleek carbon fiber vessel takes to the waters off Bermuda in the summer of 2017 to defend its victory against New Zealand in 2013.

4iiii CEO Kip Fyfe comments that “we’re proud to be providing PRECISION powermeter technology to monitor the ‘grinders’ who operate the winches on the wingsailed cat. PRECISION is not only the most accurate and lightest powermeter in the world, it’s also completely waterproof. Our proprietary technology, together with the expertise of an inspired 4iiii team, has made the adaptation from land to water possible.

The 4iiii Innovations PRECISION powermeter measures power output and energy in watts. The device is an adaptation of the technology that has made the Company the dominant powermeter on the World Cycling Tour and the choice of Tour de France Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team and BORA – hansgrohe. PRECISION is not only the most accurate and lightest powermeter in the world, it’s also completely waterproof.

ORACLE TEAM USA Skipper Jimmy Spithill notes that that “aside from the wind, all the energy
used to power the hydraulic systems and sail the boat is human generated. The team with the highest output will have a big advantage – and maximizing human power output starts with accurate monitoring.” Ian Burns –Director of Performance for ORACLE TEAM USA adds that “we’ve made substantial gains in power output from our team – in the order of 20% in 3 months and this is mainly due to knowing exactly how the guys work now and optimizing their individual training programs.”

The 34th America’s Cup recorded one of the most remarkable comebacks in sports history, as ORACLE TEAM USA recovered from 8-1 losses to fight through to the final race and claim victory.

4iiii Innovations is a major force in the running and outdoor/indoor cycling disciplines offering a full range of industry leading products including PRECISION and PRECISION PRO powermeters, Viiiiva heart rate monitors and the Sportiiii glasses-mounted performance coach.

 

Click here to download our Media Kit.

 

For media inquiries:

Suzanne Hamilton
Marketing and Communications
800.218.3095
800.218.3095 Ext. 200
Suzanne@4iiii.com
4iiii.com

4iiii Innovations Inc
228 River Ave
Cochrane, AB CAN
T4C 2C1

 

Follow 4iiii on Social Media:

HASHTAGS #PoweredBy4iiii #RideWithPRECISION

TWITTER @4iiiicom INSTAGRAM @4iiiicom FACEBOOK /4iiiicom

 

Take Your Power Off Road with PRECISION PRO Powermeter for Mountain Bikes

September 21, 2016 (Cochrane, Alberta) – 4iiii Innovations is hitting the trail with PRECISION PRO, the world’s lightest dual-sided powermeter for mountain bikes. Refining the design of the Shimano FC-9000 Dura-Ace PRECISION PRO Powermeter, 4iiii is bringing the PRECISION PRO dual-sided powermeter to the XTR FC-M9000, FC-M9020 and the FC-M8000 cranksets.  

Our PRECISION PRO family has proven to be extremely robust and ready to take on the demanding off road environment,” says Billy Chan, PRECISION Product Manager.  “This dual power meter offering highlights the company’s vision that dependable, affordable powermeters should be accessible to everyone.” 

Ridden and trusted by professional road cyclists already, PRECISION PRO delivers exceptional accuracy and dependability under the most extreme conditions and terrain. PRECISION PRO has carried Etixx – Quick-Step Cycling Team to 50 World Tour victories this season. Having delivered in the harshest conditions on the World Tour, PRECISION PRO is now ready to hit the trails. 

At a total of 18g, the new PRECISION PRO Powermeter for mountain bikes has no peer in the cycling industry.   

PRECISION PRO for mountain bikes will be released in October starting at $749.99 USD for factory install and can be ordered online at www.4iiii.com

The PRECISION PRO powermeter can be seen and experienced at booth 18071 at Interbike in Las Vegas. 

 

Media Contact

4iiii Innovations Inc.
Alex Middleton
PR@4iiii.com

4iiii PRECISION PRO Dual

Power Meter of Choice of Etixx – Quick-Step Now Available to Public

Pros ride PRECISION PRO Banner

July 22nd, 2016 (Cochrane, Alberta)  – 4iiii Innovations Inc., official partner and supplier of power measurement to Etixx – Quick-Step, announces that the PRECISION PRO dual-side power meter is now available. 

PRECISION PRO, the power meter being used by Etixx – Quick-Step at the Tour de France, is priced at $749.99 through 4iiii’s Factory Install program, including installation on customers Shimano DURA-ACE 9000 cranksets. As an option, 4iiii’s Ride Ready program, offers PRECISION PRO with purchase of a DURA-ACE 9000 crankset through the company. 

Koen Pelgrim, Head Trainer for Etixx – Quick-Step, comments that “4iiii’s PRECISION PRO power meter gives us valuable information about our riders’ shape and condition. It measures both legs independently, while only adding a few extra grams to the bike.” 

PRECISION PRO applies patent-pending 3D strain gauge technology to deliver industry-leading 99%+ power accuracy. Right and left power meters also provide cadence and communicate with each other to create a dynamic backup system increasing redundancy to ensure every ride is measured.

The sophisticated device simplifies connectivity and easy setup as it includes dual ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart wireless protocols for broad cycling computer and device compatibility. Over-the-air firmware upgrades using the 4iiii iOS and Android apps enable riders to stay ahead with 4iiiis latest upgrades and newest features. 

Karel Bergmann, PRECISION Product Manager and Technical Adviser to Etixx – Quick-Step explains that “PRECISION PRO and PRECISION have proven to be solid performers on tour with our  pro teams this year. 4iiii provides reliable accurate power feedback for all levels of athletes, on and off the road.”