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Tour Tech: SRM and T-Mobile provide a look inside the engines of the Tour

You will never see a general classification rider hooked up to SRM’s telemetric data system. By beaming real-time power meter data directly to SRM’s servers television stations and websites can see the exact effort whatever rider on the other end is expending. The transmission provides all of the information a SRM power meter can gather to commentators, but it gives anyone, including other teams a look at the wired rider’s cards. It’s up to the team and the individual rider to decide if they want to participate in the program. This year riders from a handful of teams including, T-Mobile,

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By Matt Pacocha

Marcus Burghardt’s bike wired up and ready to race.

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You will never see a general classification rider hooked up to SRM’s telemetric data system. By beaming real-time power meter data directly to SRM’s servers television stations and websites can see the exact effort whatever rider on the other end is expending. The transmission provides all of the information a SRM power meter can gather to commentators, but it gives anyone, including other teams a look at the wired rider’s cards.

SRM techs getting the Giant setup to transmit power data.

SRM techs getting the Giant setup to transmit power data.

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It’s up to the team and the individual rider to decide if they want to participate in the program. This year riders from a handful of teams including, T-Mobile, Discovery Channel, Milram and CSC are participating in the program. Unlike in previous years, many of the riders choosing to participate in the data-sharing program are close to, if not, at the front of the race.

CSC’s Christian Vande Velde has been riding with SRM’s telemetry unit and consistently finished in the first chase group during the alpine stages. Today, T-Mobile’s Marcus Burghardt had the unit on during his stint in stage 10’s all-day breakaway. Linus Gerdemann, one of the yellow jersey holders, has also projected his data for the world to see during this year’s Tour. The data has become an incredible resource for the Tour’s super fans.

The power control unit.

The power control unit.

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“We usually have eight to 10 riders in the race spread over multiple teams,” said Daniel Gillespie, a SRM technician working under contract for Versus during this year’s Tour de France. “The goal is to try and always have someone connected; so if we loose a connection there’s always someone else connected. You’re probably collecting data from seven of the 10 riders at any time.”

Besides being randomly projected throughout the Versus network’s television coverage, data can be found on T-Mobile’s team website (t-mobile-team.com) and Discovery Channel’s Paceline website (thepaceline.com). A clearinghouse for the data can also be found on SRM’s site (srm.de). The coaching website Training Peaks (trainingpeaks.com) also has select files available for download. This is one of the only places where you can download the data after the stage is over. The majority of the information isn’t available for download; it’s only streamed live through SRM’s servers during the day’s stage.

Discovery Channel’s new Madone wired and ready.

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The data itself is transferred from the rider’s SRM unit through a GPRS transceiver, which uses a sim card just like a cellular telephone. When the transceiver connects to the network, in this case T-Mobile, the data is handled like any other type of cellular transmission. It’s then transferred to SRM’s servers where television stations and websites can retrieve it.

In a sense it’s like a five-hour phone call.

SRM had to refine the profile of the crank mounted gauge to fit the Trek Madone’s new cup-less bottom bracket …

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“Last year we had a $30,000 phone bill,” said Gillespie. “That was just the phone service. This year we have two technicians here; one is working for ARD and the German network and then one is working for the U.S. network.”

Luckily for SRM and viewers, T-Mobile provides the sim cards and all of the service during the Tour.

Besides the telemetry at the Tour, Gillespie had news that a wireless SRM is in the works and hinted that it may be available sooner than expected. That’s welcome news to all of the power data geeks out there.

“We have a wireless power meter,” said Gillespie “Now we just need to finish the power control. We’re hoping [it will be finished] in the fall. Our goal is to have one then. That’s our big development, but we’re hoping to have an altimeter included in the next power control too.”

Wireless will mean no more drilling into a frame for the ‘pro’ look. And that’s a very good thing in our opinion.

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