Adobe Powers Web Coverage of 2009 Amgen Tour of California Cycling Event

By John Rice

When the nine-day Amgen Tour of California cycling race kicks off this Saturday, fans will be able to track the race on the Web in real time via Adobe’s Live Tour Tracker.

According to Jennifer Taylor, Adobe director of product management for Flash creation and distribution, “it’s really an immersive multimedia experience.” Two live feeds will be featured on the site (http://tracker.amgentourofcalifornia.com/) with the ability to do picture-in-picture. A real-time news feed on the home page will provide “play-by-play” coverage. Photo streams from professional photographers covering the race will be uploaded to Flickr and “aggregated and displayed in real time in the application.”

“We are working with real-time GPS data coming off the course in conjunction with Yahoo! Maps,” Taylor explains. “So you can see the course, and you can track your favorite rider.”

Presented by AEG Sports, the Amgen Tour of California is the largest cycling event in the U.S., covering a 750-mile course from Sacramento to Escondido, CA, from Feb. 14 to 22. Described as a “Tour de France-style” cycling event, it will feature the world’s top professional cycling teams and riders, including seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

Tour Tracker was developed with Adobe Flex Builder, “which is our rich Internet development tool,” says Taylor, and Adobe LifeCycle providing the data service. Streaming will be provided by Akamai, using the Adobe Flash Media server to stream from its network.

“This is a great example of an immersive sports application,” says Taylor, who admits to being a “super-passionate cyclist” herself. “Much of what you see in the application has been implemented in other parts of the Web. What’s unique about this application is the way that it’s bringing it all together, really combining video images, news, chat, mashing social data. It’s really a unique opportunity to see what is possible.”

She adds that, in sports, “people want both visual information and a lot of data.” She points to online efforts from NBC for its Sunday Night Ticket and the adoption of Flash for golfing events, including the U.S. Open and the Masters, as well as by the NHL and MLB, which “embrace Flash for delivery of their content.”

“Obviously, cycling doesn’t get a lot of broadcast airtime — especially over nine days and 750 miles,” Taylor says. “I believe this is the future for sports. The Web is a great opportunity for fans.”

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