Say there’s a race coming up you’re excited to see- something like Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The day of, you flip on the TV to catch the action, right? Whoa- hold on there, Sparky. Not so fast. This is cycling we’re talking about! We don’t get spoiled with things like instant, easy access to our favorite sporting pastime. We have to prove our dedication. So, how does one experience the excitement of live coverage without the convenience of TV coverage? Take my hand and let me be your guide through the forest of the interwebs.
If any races are going to be shown on TV in the US, either live or recaps, Versus or Universal Sports are the channels to go to. However, unless it’s a big time race, it probably won’t get live coverage (Think the Grand Tours or the biggest classics). To watch the other races live, one must turn to the internet. The most basic coverage on the internet is live streaming. The feed usually isn’t great, but it’s good enough. Most coverage with English commentary comes from Eurosport. Otherwise, your best bet for coverage online comes from Belgium with Dutch commentary – usually from the Belgian channel Sporza. While watching a race with Dutch commentary might seem like a futile exercise, it’s actually quite useful! Even if one can not understand what is being said, reading the emotions and reactions of the commentators can be quite informative. This coverage can also be supplemented by Twitter and live blogging.
It is the races with no live coverage at all where the obsessive cycling fans earn their stripes – for these hearty souls, no live video coverage is but a minor speed bump in their quest for compete fandom domination. Aided by their two greatest weapons, Twitter and live blogs, no race is too obscure!
As mentioned above, any live TV coverage offered in the States will either be on Versus or Universal Sports (I have no idea where you might watch live outside the States, so you’re on your own!).
Paid live coverage
When those TV execs decide we’re not worth the investment (which is most of the time), and it’s a bigger race, those channels will often offer live streaming on their websites for a fee – usually $10-15, but sometimes up to $30. Another site that offers paid coverage of a wider range of small and larger races is cycling.tv. For $80/year or $30/3 months, you have access to live race coverage with English commentary, on-demand highlights, post-race reports, etc. One of the benefits of paying for coverage is reliability and ease of access- you don’t have to search around to find a good feed and you have more flexibility to watch recaps if you miss the race. However, there are lots of free options and I’ve never paid to watch a race. This service has gotten mixed reviews, and TeamSkyFans.com has done a great in depth review of the site and its service to give you an idea if this is something you might want to use.
Free live coverage
While you have to search a little harder and the feed might not be great, there are free live feeds if you’re willing to look for them. If there is live coverage, these sites WILL find it:
- CyclingFans.com (@cyclingfans): Here you will find links to streams, start lists, the official race website, live tickers, and schedules with start times (the local start time along with the EST start time) and an analog clock with the local time of the race (ridiculously useful, for those of us not adept at time conversions…). This is my go to site for feeds and live tickers. They also post great photos after each stage, along with any recap videos available.
- SteepHill.tv (@steephill): This site has pretty much the same information as CyclingFans.com, and while I don’t think they do as good a job laying out the start times of live coverage, they have a great chart which lists the media source, links to online streaming, and comments about the stream.
- ProcyclingLive (@ProcyclingLive): Only has links to live streams, but their live ticker on Twitter is killer. They’ve also started posted race/stage previews and doing a really great podcast.