Sky’s Tour de France winning team 2017

Sky’s Luke Rowe is key rider in squad — he connects the riders and the support staff

A network analysis of Team Sky’s public interaction on Twitter shows Tour de France team captain Luke Rowe is the the most important and influential figure in the squad — he’s the most significant tweeter, he’s also the most tweeted/retweeted, and he connects and bridges beyond the core riding squad.

Fran Millar, director of business operations (and sister of former top rider/now ace commentator David Millar), is number two in the rankings of who’s central to the squad. (Other senior Sky managers, such as Dave Brailsford, team principal, and Rod Ellingworth, performance manager, do not have public twitter feeds so are not included in the analysis.)

Sky’s Twitter network — arrow size indicates volume of tweets. Riders are yellow, staff are black.

Rowe’s position of influence stems from him having a broad base of the Sky team he has tweeted to, and received tweets from, and the volume of tweets going both ways. This means he is closer to all parts of the Sky team, if not directly but by a small number of connections, than anyone else. The measure is known as betweenness in network analysis. He can send and receive praise, news, information etc. and control this flow.

Luke Rowe
Betweenness rankings - indicator of influence
Luke Rowe                   717.5 
Fran Millar 652.5
Chris Froome 633.5
Geraint Thomas 604.0
Richard Simpson 378.0
Michal Kwiatkowski 209.0
InDegree rankings - tweets/retweets received
Connections tweets received
Luke Rowe 35 388
Geraint Thomas 35 366
Chris Froome 33 258
Fran Millar 24 325
Peter Kennaugh 24 215
Ian Boswell 22 192
OutDegree rankings - tweets/retweets sent
Connections tweets sent
Fran Millar 37 342
Luke Rowe 36 331
Kelly McLean 28 331
Geraint Thomas 28 217
Marko Dzalo 28 197
Ian Boswell 25 170

The scores are calculated by giving equal consideration to the number of connections someone has, and the volume of tweets. The Chris Froome is not in the top 10 for sending tweets to his colleagues, so even though he has won the Tour de France four times he is not tweeted about the most by the team.

Richard Simpson is Sky’s digital manager so you might expect him to figure in the team’s social media presence. Kelly McLean is sponsorship manager, Marko Dzalo is one of Sky’s carers for its riders.

The Sky network consists of 35 members of staff and 27 riders — the twitter addresses were taken from the lists on Team Sky’s twitter page. The tweets analysed were sent between 1 July 2016, the day before the 2016 Tour de France, and 25 July 2017, just after the finish of the 2017 Tour.

Sky’s rider network

Looking at just the rider network, Rowe and Geraint Thomas are the key figures. Owain Doull appears ranked fifth in the betweenness rankings, but this is slightly skewed by him tweeting Jon Dibben 150 times in the data set. (Dibben, Doull and Tao Geoghan Hart emerge as a tight trio for the analysis.)

Betweenness rankings for riders

Luke Rowe 213
Geraint Thomas 174
Chris Froome 118
Michal Kwiatkowski 88
Owain Doull 57 
Wout Poels 40

The twitter data for this analysis was scraped using the Mozdeh package created by the University of Wolverhampton Cybermetrics Research Group.

The analysis used the tnet package created by Tore Opsahl