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How NTT Is Using Loads of Data, Tech and Connected Devices to Propel Its Pro Cycling Team Into the Digital Era
February 11, 2020 News

 

NTT Malaysia invited DTA to be a part of the fourth stage (Putrajaya-Genting Highlands) of this year’s Le Tour De Langkawi, where we got to meet the NTT Pro Cycling Team and hear first-hand how they’re utilising technology to improve performance and realise their Grand Tour ambitions.

NTT Pro Cycling is the rebranded name for the UCI WorldTour cycling team based in South Africa – previously known as Team Dimension Data – which was announced towards the end of 2019.

During the opening morning session, we were given a briefing by the CEO of NTT Malaysia, Henrick Choo, who was joined by NTT Pro Cycling Team’s Sport Director, Hendrik Redant and Head of Marketing, Damian Murphy, who explained about the cycling team’s history since it was founded in 2007 and how NTT has provided them with the tech innovations to now become “the most purpose-led, performance-driven and technology-enabled team in pro cycling today”.

NTT, as the headline sponsor of NTT Pro Cycling Team, provides the technology that monitors and manages the performance of the riders. The team also leverages advanced data analytics and data science to help make key decisions.

For instance, NTT’s advanced data analytics solution is used by NTT Pro Cycling Team to analyse over five years’ worth of performance data (using an API from the Pro Cycling Stats platform) to provide a view of the composition of the team as well as identify its strengths and weaknesses.

Before the start of the 2020 season, the team announced its current line-up which consists of nine new riders. According to Hendrik and Damian, each rider within the team was selected with the help of a technology solution that was co-innovated by NTT and NTT Pro Cycling.

They likened this to a typical business setting, where different talents are needed within a winning team. Similarly, in a cycling team, Hendrik explained that what’s required is the right mix of “climbers, sprinters and rouleurs” who play different roles within a race in order to be successful. NTT Pro Cycling Team makes full use of the data and technology they have at hand to provide the necessary intelligence to sign the right riders (at the right price, of course).

As the season goes underway, the solution can also help the team to select riders, prepare its race calendar and assign the right riders to the right races. Damian highlighted the importance of data, the collection of which is made possible through the use of multiple integrated technologies, wearables, IoT devices, platforms and tools, to keep the team connected at all times, and provide both detailed performance analytics and a holistic snapshot for management.

Technology is also being used to help the team monitor the health and wellness (both physically and mentally) of its riders through the Phila mobile app. Additionally, Damian explained how the team is, at its core, not unlike a logistics company, having to manage, organise and send its line-up of cyclists and supporting management teams – ranging from coaches, performance managers and sports directors to mechanical and medical personnel, nutrition experts and even their own chefs – to various locations around the world in any given calendar year.

He said that a cycling team is a highly connected and complex organisation. As such, the NTT team leverages business-focused applications, such as asset tracking, vehicle tracking and monitoring, to help it function as a well-organised global business – where, again, data and technology play a vital part.

After the enlightening morning presentation, we were whisked off to the starting line of the race to witness the exciting flag-off of the fourth leg of the 25th edition of Le Tour De Langkawi, where the riders had to cover a distance of 156.1km (which includes a gruelling Genting Highlands climb) to reach the finish line.

It was certainly a novel experience for us as we are more accustomed to covering enterprise tech-related events. We were able to enjoy the race from a different perspective while learning about the various platforms, applications and services that are transforming sports – and their potential for creating change in businesses and industries.

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