The Spring Classics have begun!
Yes, I AM overexcited, but I love the Classics. They’re European day races, usually is horrible weather, that can be flat, or very hilly, but always exciting. The Belgian Classics are known for sections of cobbles, and in the case of the first one of the season, the Omloop het Nieuwsblad, full of short, sharp hills that are often cobbled too – and because of the small, narrow roads, the fight to get to the bottom of each climb first is often harder than the hills themselves. Dan and I rhapsodised about OhN in this week’s podcast, if you want to know more
So the good news is that the second race of the weekend, the SPAR Omloop van het Hageland, on Sunday 26th February 2017, will be streamed live. The bad news is that Omloop het Nieuwsblad, on Saturday 25th February, won’t be live – BUT I’ll tell you how to follow it, and maybe get to see the finish-line live, and highlights afterwards, and how to follow all the action in real time.
Omloop het Nieuwsblad, Saturday 25th February
It’s the first race of the Flanders Classics, which are such important races. Along with the Ardennes, Flanders is a heartland of the Spring Classics, with all the cobbles, and cobbled climbs, that we love. OhN is important because it kicks off the season, and because it’s a race full of history – and it’s a tough, difficult race that riders have to be absolutely on the top of their game – and blessed with luck! – to win. It’s on the same day, and on a lot of the same roads, as the men’s race, so every climb will be crazy-busy with fans.
So we can’t watch it live, sadly, but we can follow it on twitter, and hope that some of the women’s race is shown on the men’s TV coverage.
The women start at 11:30 European CET (10am UK GMT/ 9pm Australian AEDT/ 5am North American EDT) and it’s due to finish between 14:46 and 15:09 CET (that’s from 1:45pm GMT/ 12:45am AEST/ 8:45am EDT) – you can find the full race timings here.
Twitter is the best place to follow the race. The official race account is @OmloopHNB, and the hashtag for the race is #OHNwomen. But the way I follow races is to use my list of live tweeters. This is a list I adjust separately for every race, with select accounts that are tweeting from team cars – so team staff, the race account, journalists etc. I find it a really simple way to keep track. I’m going to be at the race, so follow me on @PWCycling.
We can also hope that some of the women’s coverage is shown in the men’s race live coverage – and often Sporza will cut to highlights of the women’s race after the men’s podium ceremony. The men’s race is due to finish between 16:22 and 16:50 CET (from 3:22pm GMT/ 2:22am AEST/ 10:22am EDT) so after that? The Sporza livestream will be here (geo-restricted to Belgium, or you can try with a VPN) – and check your local cycling broadcaster to see if you’ll have coverage where you are. If you don’t have TV, you can find streams here, here or here – if the streams are in Dutch, the should be the Sporza stream, so you can flip to that after the race is over to see if there are women’s highlights there.
There’s also an app for the Flanders Classics, and that should have some updates too.
The race website has a lot of really good information. The startlist is here (look for ‘deelmende’), the map here, and I really like their page with the details of each of the climbs and cobbled sections, with photos. You can also read a race previews from VeloRooms.
If you’re excited about the race, check out the videos from last year.
SPAR Omloop van het Hageland (Tielt-Winge) Sunday 26th February
This is Round 1 of the Lotto Cycling Cup, a series of Belgian races that runs throughout the season, with points riders can win in each round, that are added to a cumulative total. It has some really interesting races – and this one is streamed entirely live!
It will be streamed live on the Motomedia livestream and the race website, from 13:00 European CET (12pm UK GMT; 7am North American EDT and 4am PDT; 11pm Australian AEST) and the race starts half an hour later. The race is due to finish between 16:49 and 17:03 CET (from 3:49pm GMT, 10:49am EDT and 2:49am AEST) and full timings are here.
The livestream is likely to have very little commentary, or if there is some, in Dutch only, so I recommend following on twitter at the same time, via the #OmloopHageland hashtag, and my race tweeters’ list.
There will also be hour-long highlights of the race on Eurosport NL, on 1st March at 18:00 CET, on 3rd March at 22:45, and on 5th March at 19:30 CET.
The map is here (it’s 1 loop of 53.1km, followed by 5 laps of 15.2km, and when you look at the profile, remember the maximum height is 80m above sea level – it’s pretty much flat!), and there’s a startlist on CyclingFever. The full technical guide is here, and there’s a preview on VeloRooms.
I’ll pull a collection of videos and media together after the races – and if you see things you enjoy, please do share them with me, in the comments below, or on twitter.
If you want to see more live women’s cycling this season, I’m keeping (and updating) a list of road races that will be broadcast or streamed in 2017. And if you want to help grow women’s cycling, I’ve got 10 simple actions that fans can take that really make a difference – if you can, take just 5 minutes a week to do a couple of these, and together we can show sponsors, races, teams and riders that there’s a huge audience for the sport out here.
I’m able to make women’s cycling media because my wonderful Patreon supporters fund me from as little as £1.50/$2/€2 a month – I’m so grateful to them, thank you! If you’d like to join them, all the information is here.