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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

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?

David worked on the tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

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