Belgian cyclist in mid race

IoT technology accelerates cyclists

How the Belgian National Cycling team is riding data and analytics to the podium

Improving race times through advanced data analytics

The Belgian Cycling team was looking for an efficient way to collect and analyze rider data to improve their pacing and optimize their energy output. The goal was for coaches to use this information to develop specific training regimens and competitive strategies while providing in-race advice based on real-time data.

A single platform to collect, analyze, and monitor rider’s metrics

InspireX developed the “In The Race” athlete management platform to monitor rider metrics leveraging services on Microsoft Azure. The platform allows coaches to collect detailed statistics and run personalized performance algorithms for individual riders to improve energy efficiency throughout a race.

Real-time coaching feedback and improved results

Riders and coaches can now draw on deep insights collected and analyzed on a single platform to design strategies on how to mitigate wasted energy and improve race times. This has resulted in improved performance in competition and faster times. The solution has also been made accessible to fans, offering them a more immersive and involved spectator experience.

InspireX, a group of 35 companies within the Cronos Group, specializes in guiding customers through digital transformation initiatives. Leveraging a wide variety of Microsoft technologies, InspireX operates across all industries, with a focus on healthcare, sports, and life sciences.

The Cronos Group, founded in 1991, employs over 5,000 workers and focuses on innovative entrepreneurship and creative technology solutions.

Riding on the cloud

The Belgian national bicycle racing team was looking for a new way to improve their race results. They knew that in order to gain a competitive edge, taking advantage of emerging IoT technologies was essential to monitor and understand its riders and enable coaches to take actionable steps. By applying analytics to sensor data collected during training and competition, the team hoped to improve how its riders conserved energy and decrease their competition times.

However, gathering and analyzing data in real-time seemed to require a costly investment in technical infrastructure for each rider. Initially, the sheer number of different sensors and systems involved made it difficult for the team to efficiently track and manage all the necessary data. To streamline the data collection and analysis process, Belgian Cycling looked for a new solution that could help the team in competition without incurring too many expenses.

A complete solution for athletes

Belgian Cycling began working with InspireX due to its background in athletics-focused Data and AI systems. InspireX evaluated the needs of the team and began implementing a solution called ‘In The Race’ (ITR). In The Race is an Azure-based athlete management platform that allows teams to gather and analyze data in real-time in order to provide riders with direct feedback from coaches throughout a race.

While developing ITR, InspireX looked to the platforms used in Formula One racing as guidance, using sensors to collect and analyze data at the highest level possible.

To start, Belgian Cycling used ITR focused on increasing the efficiency of riders as they climbed large hills. By benchmarking against a rider’s historical data, InspireX programmed an algorithm that helped identify and manage specific riders’ energy outputs. As the rider climbed a hill, a coach was able to communicate when to speed up or slow down in order to mitigate against unnecessary losses of energy that could hurt them as the race progressed.

“Technology alone never changes a business, it’s understanding what it can do for you, and use that knowledge to realize sustained value. That’s where we come in.”

— Wim Vanden Driessche, Founder, InspireX

Achieving deeper insights

With ITR, Belgian Cycling’s coaches now have the ability to build and adapt specific strategies for individual riders over a period of time. The personalized riding regimens are informed by actionable data and can be refined and adapted in real-time.

Fans and spectators also benefit from the ITR solution, as it allows fans inside access to a select set of metrics collected during the race. The unique ability for viewers to access such detailed race information crafts a deeply involved and immersive fan experience.

Belgian Cycling used ITR to improve training and performance for several of its youth team riders culminating in a silver medal (Brent Van Moer U23) and gold medal (Remco Evenepoel Junior U19) in the individual TT during the 2018 World Championship Road race in Innsbruck, Austria.

Looking forward

Professional race teams aren’t the only ones that can use ITR technology, as amateurs can use the solution to build training and race strategies based on their own data. As In The Race continues to grow and evolve, InspireX is looking at future opportunities to implement its athlete monitoring platform into other endurance sports. With Belgian Cycling racing to the finish line, InspireX aspires to take the lead in the sports data and analytics technology industry.

“Using ITR allows the coach to give realistic feedback to the rider following a pre-race developed pacing strategy.”

— Kevin De Weert, Former Head Coach of the Belgian Road Cycling Team

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