HIGH- TECH INSIGHT
VeloViewer is a course reconnaissance phenomenon. It connects to Strava and provides a clear and practical world of 3D graphics, gradients and waymarkers for teams to identify potential race-defining sections. Incredibly, 18 of the 19 WorldTour teams now subscribe to VeloViewer’s WorldTour package, while recreational riders can subscribe to VeloViewer for £10 a year. The likes of Ineos and Movistar get a touch more, says founder and Sheffield resident Ben Lowe.
I was a computer programmer who loved cycling. I’d played around with Strava and created these 3D graphics. Some of my friends used it and then it spread online. One of my friends was on the Donny Chain Gang [famous northern UK training group] and he overhead Ben Swift saying one of Team Sky’s DSs was using it.
I had a meeting with Team Sky and they officially started using it for the 2015 season. I worked with Dario [Cioni] and Nico Portal for something more bespoke. For instance, there’s now a feature called VOM (Veloviewer Objective Measure). Dario asked for a number that said how hard a particular stage is. It was based on a GC rider and climbing, but also where that climbing comes in a stage as it has a multiplying effect due to fatigue.
Sky used it in 2015 followed by Orica in 2016, and BMC and FDJ in 2017. Then as riders and DSs moved around it exploded. In fact, Trek’s the only WorldTour team who don’t use it. It’s even useful for bus drivers to know where to park at the start and finish.
Now, the WorldTour teams use the race hub and live app. The race hub involves the teams or race organiser sending me the GPX or KMZ file. I map them out as Strava routes and then add detail like specific gradients on different parts of the climbs. And for races like Strade Bianche and Paris-Roubaix, I’ll put in where gravel and pavé starts and ends. Sprint locations, KoMs and feeds are included in the file.
During the race they use the live app that, if riders want to, they can see on their head unit. This is arguably more important for the riders at a race like the Worlds where they don’t have race radio. Different colours represent a tail or headwind and it’ll change as we scroll through the course. What you don’t know is if it’s exposed or not, so it's up to the teams to come into here and start looking at Street View to see if it’s built up or not.