By Brecht Decaluwé in Brest, France
Addressing a packed media centre in Brest on Thursday afternoon, team manager Jonathan Vaughters presented his re-branded Garmin-Chipotle squad and its new jersey at the Tour de France. A clearly proud Vaughters was joined by Garmin's vice-president of marketing Jon Casset and Scotsman David Millar, who is also a part-owner of the team.
"We have an agreement with Garmin for the next two years," began Vaughters. "It was a long search for us to find a fitting partner. In the next three weeks we are bringing in the new technology and it will be exciting for us to make use of it."
Casset, who will be following the Tour for the entire three weeks, explained what his company stood for and how its technology could benefit a cycling team. "We are a technology brand with our specialty being GPS-equipment, and actually we are the world leader in car navigation," he said. "Next to that we are focusing on fitness, and cycling in particular. We had to take a deep dive in how the team is run, because it's all new for us.
"But I'm convinced that with our GPS-enabled cycling computers we can bring a new level of technology to the sport," he added. "It's a unique opportunity to use the technology for us, but also for the fans."
Asked about the specific advantages of the technology to his team, Vaughters explained: "When we are in the team car behind the riders, all we are doing is conveying a map, warning for sections where the course turns into the wind and the race will be torn into pieces. Due to poor radio quality and language barriers, there is a lot of error. I know people tend to think we are playing with joysticks and that we are ordering the riders what to do when we want, but you can't take good tactical decisions when you're driving one mile behind the race.
"The Garmin 705 allows riders to make effective decisions themselves. If we can cut down on radio, it will be better for everybody. The riders can focus on the race because radio distracts."
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