It is the early morning of July 19, 2027.

Dean McMiller, general manager of the US team iWorld7, leans comfortably on his team car and issues last instructions to his riders concerning today’s – probably decisive – stage of the 114th Tour de France.

After riding through hot desserts and the skyscraper canyons of the megacity Dubai for the last two days, today a truly tradition stage lies ahead: Givors – Mont Ventoux. The ‘Giant of Provence’ is waiting for the exhausted peloton – exhausted not only from the many hard racing kilometres over the last two-and-a-half weeks but also from their globe-spanning trip.

With a view to the current ranking, in which the Chinese Lu is just a few seconds ahead of his opponents from Cameroon, the United Emirates, Italy and Dean’s boy – the 18-years-old Wunderkind Luke Lancestrong, Dean preps his crew for the upcoming hard fight on the last 22.7 kilometres up to the observatory.

The goal is set: Full support for Luke! It’s just 16 seconds between him and the yellow ‘Emirates Leader’ jersey.

After a round of high-fives, the group sets into motion and Dean boards his ultra-modern team car.

The starting shot sounds, the peloton whirs off, the team drones take off and the accompanying cars, including Dean, follow silently. Dean makes himself comfortable in his command post. His fatigue convinces him to turn on the autopilot and close his eyes. Right on time for the flying start, the voice of his pilot-assistant wakes him and he immediately starts projecting the most important live data of today’s stage onto his huge screens.

The first 100 kilometres run smooth and according to plan for iWorld7. There is only a split second of stress in the mass crash at kilometre 90. However, the team drone had the perfect overview and saw the problems coming. Luke and his teammates had the warning signs blinking in the lenses of their iView glasses early enough to prepare for the problematic situation and avoid the crash.

After this slight shock, Dean has a look at the vital-signs – captured by the textile sensors integrated in the tailor-made race suits. He switches through his riders, checking their muscular activity, oxygen saturation, adrenaline level, energy level and respiratory rate to check how his boys are. He notices that the crash-related hectic within the peloton affects some of his riders, the respiratory rate is too high in relation to their current performance, the adrenaline level is above the average of the first 89 kilometres and the tension causes enhanced muscular activity. Dean has to decide quickly on counter-measures to not already loose important energy needed in the finale. He decides on an offensive strategy. Within the lenses of his riders a message pops up to convey the strategy to them: the elevation profile of the next 30km is displayed and shows that it starts getting serious: two climbs of the 3rdcategory lie ahead. In preparation for the key passages, i.e. narrow curvy downhill streets, a short video is played. To get the crash-related tension out of the riders’ systems, the strategy for this passage is being present at the head of the peloton and to force the own speed upon the other teams. The iWorld7 drone displays the most energy-efficient way through the peloton for the individual riders. Within a few moments all nine iWorld riders have arrived at the head of the race and start determining the speed.

On the last flat passages before the first mountain, the riders continually increase their wattage. Their iKnow-powered bike computers, which the team uses for several years now, immediately detect the changes and automatically adapt the bike set-up according to the rider’s vital-signs and performance-parameters. For this flat part, where the riders need to fight against head wind, this means for George (iWorld’s tallest and strongest rider – a true rouleur), that his fully integrated seat post/ saddle unit detects a clear shift towards the saddle nose – increasing the pressure on the pubic area. To counteract this negative change, the saddle automatically moves forward by 10mm and upwards by 3 mm, providing him with comfort given his aggressive hip position above the bottom bracket.

In addition, the handlebar unit (adapted to his paws via 3D moulding) lowers by 15mm to enable an aerodynamic position. The algorithm that automatically analyses his vital-signs and performance-parameters also concludes that George could transmit his force more efficiently if the crank arms were 5mm shorter – just a second later the crank arms have the preferred length.

Only 180 seconds after Dean has informed his riders about their new task, the nine iWorld7 team members swirl at the head of the race in their individually adjusted positions. They constantly receive important information such as wind direction and -strength, incline, own energy level and dangerous passages into their iView glasses. In their continuously changing set-ups and under the observing eyes of Dean, the iWorld team leads the peloton for the next 80km over the day’s first mountains.

The streets get narrower, the concrete rougher and the villages through which the iWorld7 express rushes are now so small that they seem to fly by.

The tension slowly increases in the team car. Dean notices that four of his riders dealt with the stress of the last days worse than they had hoped. The live data clearly show that none of the four has enough energy reserves to play an important role in helping Luke Lancestrong in the stage final. At the same time, the iWorld drone’s prognosis shows that the competitors act very smart today and that Luke will have to deal with strong rivals at the ‘Giant’.

Dean has another look at Luke’s data: the energy reserves in important muscular groups needed to master the steep climbs of the Mont Ventoux look good and the lactate rates in relation to the heart- and respiratory rate during today’s stage look very good. Dean hopes that Luke has mastered the hard last days well and after shortly talking to Luke via iMic they agree: They want to go for ‘all or nothing’ and stick to their offensive tactic.

The four suffering riders get the info to completely exert themselves until the beginning of the Mont Ventoux – supported by George and another rouleur. Luke and his best two domestiques are then supposed to use the long last 22.7 km to accomplish what Dean and his team have been working for so hard: The stage win and the leadership in the overall ranking shall be celebrated tonight.

The approach runs according to plan, the speed is high and the last attackers of the day have been caught. Dean can track live how the energy levels of his frontrunners drop ever more. The iKnow software is busy to support the increasingly tired riders – while they move their upper bodies ever more and bounce on and off the saddle. The iWorld drone analyses that at most 20 riders are in the run for the final. The rest of the leading group already now needs to fight and many riders take a wrong decision due to their exhaustion: Accordingly, they need to spend more energy for staying in the leading group. Also Dean’s team is down to Georg, Luke and his two domestiques at the beginning of the final climb.

From here on, the plan is that Luke’s three teammates keep the speed up, while Luke tries a well-timed attack against his biggest rivals on the last few kilometres.

The group has passed Bedion – the mountain begins!

The guys around Luke give their everything and after the first five steep kilometres, the leading group is down to 20 riders. Dean only has eyes for Luke’s parameters and Luke’s iKnow Software is busy regulating and optimizing. At the beginning of the climb the textile sensors detect an increased activity of the hamstrings. Luke’s changed cadence in the climb contributes to this different strain on his muscles. To account for this, the shoe-pedal-units position themselves a few millimetres outwards and the rotation angle is increased to 7°. At the same time, the saddle position is constantly adapted to the climb. So the saddle moves forward by 15mm and the saddle nose is declined by a few degrees depending on the steepness. This allows Luke to always stably use the entire saddle surface without the saddle nose pinching the inclined pubic bone.

Dean foresees that George and the two others will be fully exhausted in a few moments and passes this info on to Luke. Now he needs to look out for Lu and the other favourites, all of whom are still around and the drones of the other teams swirl around Luke to get a better assessment of his constitution. Luke puts on his poker face but he cannot hide his high pulse, the increased body temperature and his high respiratory rate from the high-tech drones. So also Luke knows that his competitors could hardly be better off than he was – now 6 km from the finish line struggling to find his rhythm and keeping his cadence constant. The iKnow software works hard and applies Luke’s personalized algorithm to translate his current performance and cadence into the fitting gear ratio – thus constantly shifting between 14 sprockets. Luke just has to hold on to his perfectly fitting handlebar unit while hoping that he and Dean would make no tactical mistakes, that his software works better, and that it knows him better than that of his competitors knows them. His constitution is great at this hot July day in 2027. Just two kilometres remain up to the observatory. Next to Luke, the leading group only contains the Chinese Lu, the surprisingly strong Italian and the rider from Cameroon – one of them will win today.

Luke realizes it will be hard. Already when the Italian last attacked it took a moment before he found a setup that allowed him to accelerate beyond 30 km/h. The transmission keeps on jumping back and forth to find the fitting gear for Luke. At the same time, Dean desperately tries to override the software to protect Luke – who suddenly found himself fighting alone against a massive head wind – with a narrower and lower handlebar setup. The risky plan works and Luke can once again close the gap to Lu and the Italian.

Barely having arrived at Lu’s rear wheel, Luke sees how the Italian again puts his hands on the outside of his handlebar and uses his fingers to give three quick impulses on a button. A fraction of a second later, the Italian’s chain moves three sprockets down and he forcefully stands up to accelerate out of the saddle to more than 30. Luke got to know the manual electronic gear shifters as a junior, but at Team iWorld7 it was replace two years ago by the intelligent shifting system integrated into the iKnow software.

Luke has no chance but to look on as the 28-years-old Italian advances meter by meter. The gap soon becomes big enough for the sea of onlookers to close between the Italian in his pink Lycra-jersey and Luke and the Chinese.

Dean lets Luke know from his command post that only the second place is still possible – if Luke keeps on fighting and believing in himself.

Finally, Luke reaches the top of Mont Ventoux as third rider. Lu defends his yellow ‘Emirates Leader’ jersey – with just a few seconds ahead of the Italian – and arrives two days later as the first Chinese Tour de France winner in Paris…

This is how the world’s most prestigious cycling race could look like in 13 years – if technical advancement, biomechanical expertise as well as data management and analysis penetrate the biking industry even further.

We hope that in our daily work we make a small contribution to advance the knowledge and the technical development in cycling. Because it is only constant re-working and critically questioning the status quo that allows us to fully use the potential for improvement. This would mean a great synergy between development and tradition in cycling – because the love and fascination that cycling sparks in all of us is tightly linked to the tradition and the emotions of cycling! This needs to stay the basis for the most beautiful sport of the world!

Author and man with the crystal ball:

Michael Fuhrmeister