The season has started. No more training races, it is time for real races. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (previously known as Omloop Het Volk) and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne launched last weekend with exciting racing, unlike the snow that hit them last year. This opening weekend is followed by a flood of events. Strade Bianche, Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico. Most days there is a race to watch. If you live in America, or are stuck in an office, airport, or hotel don’t worry there are still plenty of ways to watch an event live or catch up on it later.
It is helpful to know when the races are and who is riding. The Inner Ring, perhaps the best cycling blog on the net, has a comprehensive race calender and Cycling Fever is an excellent source for start lists
It would be an insult to call Cyclingfans a link dump. Pete Geyer’s site is the original. For 10 years he has been providing links, photos, and broadcast times. He has developed THE resource not just for streams but for very accurate broadcast start times and estimated finish times.
Steephill.tv is another great resource. Not just for streaming links but also for stage profiles, maps, timetables. He also posts race recaps and results.
The slackers at @nyvelocity have a great word for pirate streams, “Digital herpes”. Unfortunately for Americans they are often the only option to watch real time races. The rules are simple, Don’t click to install the “new flash player” they say you need, the ads for Russian Girlfriends, or the Sports book. Wait 30 seconds and a tiny x will appear. Click on that x and the spam adds will disappear
A couple years ago I had the unique opportunity to visit one of the companies that host this content. It was what you would expect, anonymous office building in a central European city. Bottom floor filled with racks of servers, power and AC. Secretaries that looked like they moonlight at the Spearmint Rhino. Buyer beware.
The mention of Cycling.tv often results in groans from cycling fans. When they launched several years ago there was much optimism but they failed to deliver. Big races were dropped from the package with no notice, small print included a clause that automatically re-subscribed users after the initial year was up, the user interface and log in was clunky and the stream quality was often a mess.
Things appear to be getting better. Last season I paid for a quarterly pass and was mostly pleased with the service. The event calender is still vague and the log-in clunky but the stream quality is mostly good….although for several events I did have to switch to a pirate stream when Cycling.tv’s broadcast took a dive with a few KM left in the race. Overall it appears their offer is starting to live up to it’s promises.
UCI’s Youtube Channel
The UCI has their own Youtube channel. The selection is limited but they do have Woman’s racing, Cross, track, and Road Worlds. Unfortunately much of the content is Geo-Restricted due to rights issues. Often a local broadcaster will own the rights to a region but not broadcast the event or will broadcast it delayed by several hours/days. The quality of the UCI stream is usually very good and worth using a proxy to access it from a country that is Geo-Restricted.
A proxy tricks Geo-Restriction by making it appear you are accessing the content from another country. There are many Proxies available but the best option I have found is using the Hola.org add on installed on the Chrome browser. By setting the country to Albania, Afghanistan, etc, you are able to access the global English feed.
Tour Tracker is an app that provides live updates, maps, etc for several large races, including the Tour de France. For the key American races, Tour of California, USA Pro Cycling Challenge and Tour of Utah, they also provide a live video feed with commentary. Generally a high quality feed and good commentary. @ commentary is excellent.
These two channels are a bit confusing as they are both owned in part by NBC. Subscribers who have NBC sports or Universal Sports as part of their cable or satellite package can access select events online. There have been options in the past to subscribe to specific races, like the Giro and the Tour, but it is unclear if that will continue.
It should be possible to subscribe to the Eurosport player and use a Proxy to trick the Geo-Restriction but I have never tried it
In case you miss the live stream there are several way to watch the days racing, in high quality, with limited risk of “Digital Herpes”
There are several Youtube users who upload the days action shortly after broadcast, Here are a couple of the best
Usually within a few hours of a major races there is a high quality version available for download at Cyclingtorrents.nl They also have many classic races, documentaries, and unique content.
Twitter also has several users who post links to cycling content. @ posts several per day
How the Race was Won is mandatory Monday morning viewing after a big weekend of races. Cosmo’s entertaining and insightful analysis is spot on.
How do I stream on my TV?
Recently the market has been flooded with various devices that enable streaming on your TV. While they work great for Netflix and Hulu they seldom work for Pirate streams, VPN’s, etc. I used a variety of old laptops over the years then wised up and bought an old school Dell box. It was cheap, plenty of power, and had an HDMI output that easily connected to my TV. Coupled with a wireless keyboard w/touchpad and my TV becomes a 55′ streaming machine. It also isolates digital herpes issues to an ancillary device.
Lastly, if you are interested in how races are covered and broadcast to the world the folks over at Cyclingtips have a great overview of what it takes to cover a bike race