Experience the revolution in cycling brought about by technology and data analysis.
Gone are the days when it was all about physical performance.
Discover how strategy, planning, and having the right equipment for success have become vital in the modern age of cycling.
This interview with Alex Stieda, a former professional cyclist and member of the 7-Eleven Cycling Team, provides an insightful look at how technology and data analysis have impacted cycling in recent years, what it takes to be a successful racer and the impact of the Netflix TV show “Tour de France: Unchained” which first episode was broadcast on June 8, 2023.
What do you think about the role and impact of technology and data analysis in modern cycling?
Cycling is more sophisticated than before due to technological evolution.
The tire improvements alone are a game changer. The size, weight and pressure of the tires have changed dramatically.
We used to use 20 mm or 22 mm tires; now 25–32 mm tires are the norm due to increased aero efficiency and lower rolling resistance.
You now also have the choice of the size of the tire and the type of rim (carbon, aluminum, etc.) and depth of the rim. This evolution brought a different vision to the cycling business.
Back in the days, when you were a cyclist, you were either ‘good’ or” bad” because of your physical performance. Now, all the equipment and the technological gear matter and can make a huge difference too. But you still must be an incredible athlete to be able to participate in professional cycling races.
Data measurement has also become a major evolution that has changed the cycling world.
It allows cyclists and teams to gain valuable insights into their performance.
Data sensors on bikes and wearable devices used by cyclists capture a wide range of metrics such as speed, power output, heart rate, glucose, and cadence. This data helps analyze and make strategic decisions during races or training camps.
I realize now that when I was a professional cyclist we were over-racing and had less time to rest between the races. Now, the teams have more cyclists, so they can choose who will rest for specific competitions.
Usually, the teams ensure that their best cyclists can peak to participate in the Major Competitions and recover in the smaller ones.
Where did your training camps take place?
When I was part of the 7-Eleven Cycling Team, the training camps took place in California (Napa Valley) or Texas (Austin).
We never really trained with a Canadian Team. I trained either with the 7-Eleven team or by myself.
We can now see that most teams go to Europe for training camps at high altitude to increase their red blood cells so they can carry more oxygen to their muscles. This was never a consideration for us
What do you think about Cycling Canada’s development?
Cycling Canada has a good development program, focused on the velodrome events since this is where they have the most potential to win medals at the Olympics.
On recent years, more and more Canadian cyclists have been present in major competitions. Although there are good juniors in road cycling, Cycling Canada focuses on cycling track.
They have a medal objective for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. BMX and paracycling are also two sports that are developing well in Canada.
When I was racing, we raced road and track at the World Championships and Olympics. The “theory” was more is better instead of now it is “focus on specific events.”
What role did mental resilience play in your cycling career, and what techniques did you employ to stay motivated and focused during difficult races?
Cycling is unique in that it is a team sport that is only won by one rider.
Cycling is a tough sport mentally.
Now, more than ever, each cyclist on a professional team has a specific role (domestique or helper) and it is hard for some cyclists to accept that.
They could be a leader in other cycling teams, but on their professional team, they must be at the service of the team leader.
They help him save energy, bring him to the front of the peloton or help him take back some time.
When I raced, it was less of a team game and more about being opportunistic and everyone trying to win!
What impact do you think the Netflix TV show “Tour de France: Unchained “will bring to the cycling world?
I think that the Netflix TV show will have a big impact on the cycling industry.
It will be an excellent exposure.
Unfortunately, they did not explain very well why and how the strategies are created and how each cyclist has a well-defined role in the team they are riding for.
What’s great is that we can see all the newest technologies used. People can now see how technical cycling is.
When I raced, all the bikes weighed 23 pounds (10.5 kg) and our tire pressures were 110 PSI. It’s a new world now!
Thanks to the Netflix show, we can see all those small details. I can’t wait to watch season 2 next year!
1st Yellow Jersey Overall Tour de l’Abitibi
1st Gastown Grand Prix
3rd Individual pursuit, Commonwealth Games
1st Athens Twilight Criterium
3rd Individual pursuit, summer
1st Gastown Grand Prix
1st Stage 3 Tour of Texas
1st Stage 1 Coors Classic
Tour de France : Held Yellow Jersey after Stage 1
1st Stage 5 Tour of Texas
1st Overall Tour of Texas
Ready to hit the open road with style? Look no further than Alex Stieda’s go-to cycling gear—Density and Furry goggles.