Columbia High Road saw an extraordinary performance at the Giro D'Italia as well as at races throughout the past year. This exceptional streak can be attributed at least in part to the team's manager, wireless entrepreneur Bob Stapleton.
Upon taking the helm, Mr. Stapleton immediately set out to apply the principles he learned from the high-tech world which meant a constant push to embrace new technologies even before they were available on the market. Columbia was an early adopter of power meters from German company SRM. Developed and patented by cyclist Ulrich Schoberer, the PowerMeter training system quantifies a riders performance based on data measured directly from the crank.
The Columbia team has a dedicated staff to analyze the data coming from SRM to determine each riders daily performance as well as to help predict how the team will perform in future races. One of my favorite sites, BikeTechReview, started by engineer Kraig Willett, posted a detailed, scientific comparison between SRM, Polar and Power Tap.
In favor of building their own bicycle prototypes that other teams might not have, Mr. Stapleton dropped Giant as a supplier and signed on Formula 1 aerodynamics expert Simon Smart to help design new frames.
This application of high technology to the sports industry for competitive advantage is something we will be seeing more of in the future. Let's just hope these advances aren't immediately banned….