UCI's on-board video experiment pays off with thrilling sprint footage from Tour of California

Governing body's video trial looks to pay immediate dividends with footage shot from on-board John Degenkolb's bike in ToC stage one sprint

by David Arthur   May 13, 2014  

UCI allows video cameras on bikes at Tour of California (2)

Last month, UCI president Brian Cookson said that the future of TV coverage of professional cycling could include footage taken by on-bike cameras to give fans of the sport an unprecedented view from inside the peloton - so does the use of video cameras on several bikes in the Tour of California herald the first sign of this in action?

When the video cameras mounted to bikes producing thrilling action shots like this of John Degenkolb’s sprint in the opening stage of the US race, where he was narrowly beaten by Mark Cavendish, we’re inclined to think this can only be a good step for the sport.

Other sports, like Formula 1, have been far more progressive with the use of car mounted video cameras with great effect and some have been calling for a similar step forward in professional cycling for a good few years.

The video above was shot on Shimano’s new CM-1000 camera which hasn’t been released yet (so this is a handy bit of publicity for the company) with one attached to the front of Degenkolb’s handlebars via a K-Edge mount, and another on his leadout rider Ken Hanson, mounted to his seatpost.

The video gives a rare insight into the speed, energy, excitement and danger of the bunch sprint. The speed is extremely high, the wheels close and there’s a lot of shouting. Notice Degenkolb hovering his fingers over the brake levers early in the sprint. It's a rare insight into the sprint finish. 

Speaking last month at the SportAccord convention of international sporting bodies, Cookson said: "One of the biggest challenges – not just for cycling, but for many sports – is the need to evolve while staying true to the essence of your sport. How do you progress and embrace innovation in order to make the spectator and viewer feel even more engaged?

"We will look at technology such as cameras on bikes and in team cars to see how they can be used to enhance the viewer experience. Imagine being able to share the view of Chris Froome as he rose up Mount Ventoux or came up the Champs-Elysees to win last summer’s Tour de France. And why stop at cameras - what about having microphones on bikes or sharing rider data on screen.”

The UCI responed to our request for clarification by saying: "For the moment there is no rule change on this matter. This is a project at the UCI to allow the use of cameras. At the Tour of California, some derogations have been given to test the use of cameras in real conditions."

We also contacted the Tour of California race organisers and they told us: "the UCI has granted us permission to use Shimano Sports cameras on bikes."

Do you want to see more of this on-board footage from races?

47 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

Applause Applause Cracking footage, gives a perspective on (in?) the lead out train that you just don't get from the moped or helicopter cameras. The onboard cameras in F1 make coverage of the sport significantly better, doing the same to cycling TV coverage will only help to make it more accessible to the mainstream! Big Grin

posted by Cantab [60 posts]
14th May 2014 - 8:57

6 Likes

Brilliant, can you imagine if they also broad cast live?

Remember the multi-angle thing they did for football, well imagine being able to pick a rider and view it from them, fore or aft?

It looks so much quicker than seeing the arial shots or from the camera car!

Huzzah to the UCI!

posted by Wolfshade [103 posts]
14th May 2014 - 9:05

5 Likes

Check this comparison of the new Sony HDR-AS100 Action Cam out against a Go Pro 3. Notice the stabilisation on it. Quite a few other nice touches on it too. £350 big ones make it quite competitive.

http://youtu.be/rj4e1maVDF8

posted by Cambat [12 posts]
14th May 2014 - 9:21

4 Likes

Superb! Although, I'd like to see the live broadcast technology nailed first - watching the ToC last night on Eurosport, the ariel view was fine, but the in-race footage was pretty ropey with lots of juddering and sudden drop-out.

dafyddp's picture

posted by dafyddp [163 posts]
14th May 2014 - 9:26

3 Likes

not sure I fancy watching when a "prang" occurs !!!
think of the language, the bleep machines would melt under
the load Smile

... but ... that was brill Smile ... defo need more of that

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [726 posts]
14th May 2014 - 9:27

4 Likes

I dunno. Its all a bit exciting and dynamic for me. Change is bad.

www.vulpine.cc
@aslongasicycle
@vulpinecc

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posted by aslongasicycle [309 posts]
14th May 2014 - 9:37

10 Likes

aslongasicycle wrote:
I dunno. Its all a bit exciting and dynamic for me. Change is bad.

"Don't like change" - sounding a bit Manx there fella! ;P

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

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posted by mooleur [542 posts]
14th May 2014 - 10:16

3 Likes

Would love to see that from Cav's perspective Smile

posted by graham_f [106 posts]
14th May 2014 - 10:59

4 Likes

dafyddp wrote:
Superb! Although, I'd like to see the live broadcast technology nailed first - watching the ToC last night on Eurosport, the ariel view was fine, but the in-race footage was pretty ropey with lots of juddering and sudden drop-out.

ToC coverage in general is pretty shocking I think so far.
They just can't seem to get it right.

glynr36's picture

posted by glynr36 [468 posts]
14th May 2014 - 11:00

3 Likes

Top top stuff. Just a shame the camera didn't have a wider angle - I was expecting Cav to come into shot.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3320 posts]
14th May 2014 - 11:09

4 Likes

More... Applause Applause Applause encore... Applause Applause

posted by Roberj4 [197 posts]
14th May 2014 - 11:20

6 Likes

Someone did a comp of the race footage along side the bikecam footage:

http://youtu.be/rbPAc4CREAI

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [559 posts]
14th May 2014 - 11:36

6 Likes

This is what we need, takes us in the middle of the action, anybody who watches motorsport knows this is the way forward, I would like them to the use the Giro-Cam that MotoGP have though if that's possible, that keeps the camera perfectly in line, I guess that may require motors though.

But a great start, can't wait for more of this

posted by mikeprytherch [219 posts]
14th May 2014 - 11:54

5 Likes

It will be available live in no time, the joys of the internet.

posted by spence129 [21 posts]
14th May 2014 - 11:57

4 Likes

Bring it on. First they need to get the cameras transmitting live, battery capacity is the limiting factor there. Then they need to air these in event cinema.

The only problem I can see is the rear facing camera is going to pick up the sound of every emission from the rider. Wink

posted by earth [92 posts]
14th May 2014 - 11:58

5 Likes

WOW...Look at Cav pouncing onto JD's wheel at 50 seconds...key position decision made!....awesome footage right in the epicentre of the action...

posted by NeilXDavis [113 posts]
14th May 2014 - 12:04

5 Likes

In terms of battery life for streaming the live video, you could quite easily have the cameras switched on remotely when the race imagery director thinks the time is right, then switch them back off. The problem really comes from you'd need to have pretty strong connectivity to pipe it back out in real time to be spliced in. It's definitely doable though, I think it'd add a lot of interest to certain aspects of the stages.

posted by nicholassmith [69 posts]
14th May 2014 - 15:16

2 Likes

nicholassmith wrote:
In terms of battery life for streaming the live video, you could quite easily have the cameras switched on remotely when the race imagery director thinks the time is right, then switch them back off. The problem really comes from you'd need to have pretty strong connectivity to pipe it back out in real time to be spliced in. It's definitely doable though, I think it'd add a lot of interest to certain aspects of the stages.

no problem! re-introduce hub dynamos at the same time as disc brakes - I'm sure these guys wouldn't mind donating a few spare watts!

dafyddp's picture

posted by dafyddp [163 posts]
14th May 2014 - 15:30

3 Likes

Brilliant but I feel seasick Sick

Noelieboy's picture

posted by Noelieboy [92 posts]
14th May 2014 - 16:05

2 Likes

Big step forward, worth pursuing.

harman_mogul's picture

posted by harman_mogul [141 posts]
14th May 2014 - 17:18

4 Likes

Quote:
The problem really comes from you'd need to have pretty strong connectivity to pipe it back out in real time to be spliced in

Plenty of TV motorbikes bobbing about, easy to set them up as hubs for data collection and transfer using the live streams they already supply. Go-Pro already pumps out live stream but at low image quality, and they are only £300ish. Jump up to TV level kit and id be surprised if there is not already stuff in the industry that could be modified and applied by the time of the tour. Just needs the TV company to realise the opportunity (extra revenue streams) and push the UCI/ASO to make it happen. The biggest issue i see is the organisers wanting more cash for the rights to see right up Cav's nose when he is wheel sucking :0)

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [418 posts]
14th May 2014 - 17:29

2 Likes

SteppenHerring wrote:
NeilG83 wrote:
Now we know why Degenkolb lost by a couple of inches. It was the extra weight and loss of aerodynamics from carrying that camera. Big Grin

The thing is, since bikes can be built far under the UCI weight limit then adding stuff like cameras, power meters, cadence sensors, bells and the Herman Safety Wing have become the norm.

[[[ What...no "Teasmade"?

PhilRuss

posted by PhilRuss [293 posts]
14th May 2014 - 17:46

2 Likes

nicholassmith wrote:
In terms of battery life for streaming the live video, you could quite easily have the cameras switched on remotely when the race imagery director thinks the time is right, then switch them back off. The problem really comes from you'd need to have pretty strong connectivity to pipe it back out in real time to be spliced in. It's definitely doable though, I think it'd add a lot of interest to certain aspects of the stages.

I think this is key, because riders will have a massive objection to live audio for an entire race (if it was even technically possible) - racing is not always flat-out, and who wants the world to know what rider a tells rider b in random private conversations? "My missus said... Etc". Remote power-on for the business end of a stage, though, or a hair-raising descent by someone like nibali - oh yeah!

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3320 posts]
14th May 2014 - 18:27

1 Like

Wow!!!

posted by Flying Heron [34 posts]
14th May 2014 - 21:55

1 Like

Looked fantastic. Pretty scary too. Can you imagine Cancellara on a descent?

Not sure what they were using but the Hero 3 is pretty good quality if they can get it to run for a race at 1080. As mentioned it's battery duration that's the problem - and trying to buffer and transmit high quality at speed.

Curious that the Tour of CA still has bad transmission links. It's been terrible for the past 3 years. Can't understand why they can't improve it. I just imagine a circling battered crop duster piloted by a bearded hippy with a mini cab receiver on the side to pick up the bike feeds...

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1072 posts]
15th May 2014 - 7:42

1 Like

The footage is amazing but a steadycam is needed - anyone who's watched Motogp will know what I mean.

posted by Beaufort [181 posts]
15th May 2014 - 8:55

1 Like

Those saying that riders wouldn't want the whole lot broadcast, surely Shimano must have this sorted as we only get the business end of this ride.. And I doubt they stopped Degenkolb whilst he was riding to turn the camera on.

Although thinking about it they do Road rash cleaning whilst riding so maybe not too difficult to hit the on switch..

posted by JonnyWright [7 posts]
15th May 2014 - 13:31

0 Likes

Tht looks exciting!

Feel the fear and do it anyway

hood's picture

posted by hood [117 posts]
16th May 2014 - 22:02

1 Like

Maybe I need a new PC. That video played at about three frames per second Sad

posted by Sir Wobbly [7 posts]
16th May 2014 - 22:44

0 Likes

Didn't a team (can't remember wich one) had mounted GoPro's on Paris-Roubaix 2 years ago? I remeber seeing a picture of one of the bikes prior to race but never heard or saw nothing more..

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posted by ososxe [28 posts]
16th May 2014 - 23:03

0 Likes