Tour de France organisers use Strava to help plan the route

The Tour de France has already thrown up four dramatic stages, as the world’s best road cyclists take on the toughest test in the sport.

For bike racing fans, the grandest of the grand tours is a tradition. It is three weeks a year to look forward to. Familiar stages on familiar mountain passes recur throughout the years, evoking memories of epic battles gone by.

But stage five of this year’s edition is a little bit different.

The early days of the race have been set up mostly for the sprinters, giving the peloton a chance to get its feet wet before the really hard climbs take place next week. But Wednesday’s stage, taking the riders between the Brittany towns of Lorient and Quimper, is far from a traditional stage.

That’s because Thierry Gouvenou, a former professional cyclist and now a member of the organising committee who decide the Tour’s route, told French newspaper Ouest France that stage five of this year’s race was inspired by cycling app Strava.

“Nothing will ever replace seeing the terrain for yourself, but over the last few years this platform (Strava) has been an invaluable tool,” he told Ouest France.

The process of choosing where to take the race is understandably a complex one, but after consulting Strava to find the roads in the area where local cyclists train (with some professionals among them), the organisers were able to gain insights into where to take the peloton.

Indeed, the technology – as it comprises geographical details of the route – also allows organisers to find hidden gems on the course they might be unable to see otherwise.

“Without Strava, I could never have mapped out a stage like this,” said Gouvenou. “Across the whole of the tour, this is the stage I worked on the most. Strava has allowed us to discover segments of road where there was great activity, and, at the same, to see a precise view of the topography.”

Apps like Strava were created to help casual and club cyclists to record their rides and aid their training, but their effects are now being felt at the very top of the sport.

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Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 709 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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