Tour De France 2021 Organizers Use Digital Twin

6th Jul 2021

The Tour de France has always been a challenging event to cover. Whereas sports like soccer and rugby are held in a fixed venue, the world’s most famous cycle race takes place across an entire country.

Organizing and broadcasting a race that lasts three weeks and spans 3,400km is a complex endeavor, especially when the peloton travels through challenging environments like the Alps or the Pyrenees. And this task becomes more complex all the time.

Every stage is shown live on T.V. and digital is an increasingly important channel for the Amaury Sports Organization (ASO), the custodian of the race, both from an operational and a fan engagement perspective.


Tour de France digital

However, collecting and processing all this data in real-time is difficult when the tour is constantly moving. In recent years, The Tour and its technical partners have worked to collect as much data as possible as quickly as possible so it can be used to provide immediate insights to fans and give organizers greater control over the race.

Since 2015, NTT has been responsible for much of these efforts, providing organizers and broadcasters with more accurate information and statistical analysis that can be fed to viewers.

“Technology plays a vital part in helping us innovate at the speed fans expect from their mobile and cloud-based applications, all the while providing event insights, rich analytics and intelligent digital solutions,” said Yann Le Moenner, CEO of the ASO.

“Since 2015, we’ve brought a whole host of digital enhancements to the event to create the best ‘connected fan’ experience. This year is no different, delivering a data-driven experience across any device, wherever you are in the world.”

For this year’s race, NTT has created a ‘Digital Twin’ – a digital representation of a physical space or object created from real-time data – of the entire race.

Digital Twin

Digital Twins have been deployed in several industries such as manufacturing, where they can be used to simulate changes to production or to train staff without impacting the physical factory. In the sports sector, Digital Twins could transform venue management by allowing operators to simulate safety procedures, crowd control measures or any other number of scenarios.

Adoption will increase as sporting stadiums become more connected and intelligent but as we’ve already noted, the Tour de France is never static. Data is therefore generated from various sensors along the route, on the bikes and in the caravan, and processed using edge computing.

Edge computing brings processing capabilities as close as possible to the point of collection to reduce latency and enhance accuracy when compared to traditional cloud computing. Edge processing can take place at a regional data center, a mobile phone mast or an edge server.

The Tour de France Digital Twin gives organizers real-time visibility over key locations, assets and riders, making the event easier to manage, especially in remote areas like mountains. Meanwhile, NTT will also use its edge capabilities to provide immediate race data to the team vehicles for the first time. The company calls this innovation the “world’s largest connected stadium”.

“The digitization of the Tour de France began in 2015 by capturing data from the cyclists to provide real-time updates” declared Peter Gray, Senior Vice President, Advanced Technology Group, Sport at NTT.

“Every year we have been able to take the technology to the next level, this year we are creating what is essentially a digital twin of the event. It’s a highly dynamic and changing environment that requires immediate access to information to ensure continuous and smooth operations, resulting in more informed and engaged fans.”

The Tour remains a national obsession in France but attracting new audiences and ensuring a smooth operation remain key priorities for the ASO. The “world’s largest connected stadium” will help.