Making Something Useful from the TdF Presentation

Oct 19 2009

tour_reflectI’ve never been much for Grand Tour prognostications immediately upon the release of a given event’s parcours. Aside from the fact that an infinite number of doping convictions, crashes, team developments, and vacillations in form could occur during the next 10 months, the fact is that things tend not to unfold as predicted.

Is the memory of this year’s Tour so faded that people have forgotten how the first action-packed week—tabbed by many beforhand to be something of a bore—led into a week and a half of largely formulaic and negative racing, culminating with a ride to the top of Ventoux that almost appeared to be a mosey to behind two day-long breakaways.

For me, the most telling insights from the 2010 Tour presentation had nothing to do with the route; Alberto Contador’s decidedly unsubtle walk-off of underdressed rival Andy Schleck, and possibly one of the most awkward handshakes ever captured told me all there was to know at this point in time. As Shane Stokes so rightly quipped “spot the alpha male”.

However, that’s not to say that the Tour route data can’t be put to some good use. After all, would I really leave you hanging without a post since Thursday if I weren’t up to something? ‘Cross racing only takes up some much time, you know—even if it involves concocting means of hoseless mud removal while watching others nearly freeze to death.

So I present to you Cyclocosm’s 2010 Tour de France Map viewer. Showing some decent online pluck for a print publication, Velonews put together a Google Maps overlay from what little route has been released so far. I followed-up by building a template around that to make the interface fast, beautiful, and user-friendly.

Outside of fresh scrolling muscles, there are two tremendous benefits to this set-up. The first is that I don’t have to worry about keeping my own version of the map up to date—the source material is identical, so if the map author makes a change, my map changes, too.

The second is that now I have a new content type for displaying Google Maps data; essentially, any bike race you can draw on Google Maps, I can display quickly, easily, and beautifully display within the site—with proper attribution for your efforts, of course.

Oh, one more thing: it doesn’t work in Internet Explorer. And I have no intention of fixing that.

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