Wednesday 19th April 2017
2017 has been an incredible year for live women’s cycling, with more racing to watch than ever before. In the first five rounds of the 2017 Women’s WorldTour, we have had around an hour of video from Strade Bianche and Ronde van Vlaanderen, around 40 minutes from Amstel Gold, and the most from the Ronde van Drenthe and Trofeo Alfredo Binda. On top of this, we’ve had the entire Healthy Ageing Tour stage race and Omloop van het Hageland day race streamed fully live, which is even more impressive as they’ve both very small race organisations. And it seems like finally, after years of fan frustration, we’ll also get to see more of the Flèche Wallonne than every before.
Now, before you get too excited, it doesn’t look like the race will be streamed live, as the timings don’t match exactly, but we can hope. SBS Cycling Central say their Flèche coverage will start with 50 minutes of the women, so I’m crossing my fingers that at least we will see the final sprint up the Mur de Huy, one of those perfectly Classics icons that transforms from an ordinary (albeit very steep) street in a small town into something out of legend. It’s not just the gradient, it’s that it’s narrow, and full of twisting corners – and lined with ecstatic fans leaning over the barriers to cheer their hearts out. Karl Lima took me to the race with his team Hitec Products took me to the race in 2013, and it’s one of the best races you can experience live, anywhere in the world.
So how do we watch?
The race starts at 10:45 European CEST (9:45am UK BST/4:45am USA EDT/6:45pm Aus AEST) and is due to finish between 13:54 and 14:15 CEST (from 12:54 BST/7:45am EDT/9:54pm AEST).
The Australian coverage seems to start at 14:05 CEST (1:05pm BST/8:05am EDT/10:05pm AEST). I’ve only found direct reference to this on Australia’s SBS Cycling Central, where they say:
Apparently this coverage might also be on the European Eurosport Player from 14:15 CEST (1:15pm BST; 8:15am EDT) but without commentary, and that definitely wouldn’t be live.
Other countries’ Flèche package seems to start at 14:30 CEST (1:30pm BST/8:30am EDT/10:30pm AEST), so it seems like it’s going be one of those women’s cycling oddities, where we won’t know if we’ll see the race until the TV starts… There are also teasers like this, which imply more (but hey, ASO, it’s less than 48 hours before the race, and it might help promote it more if you actually gave information a bit earlier than whatever you’re planning…)
The Australian stream is on SBS Cycling Central, and possibly Australian Eurosport (geo-blocked to Australia, or use a VPN). Apparently the Eurosport Player will show pictures without commentary and while of course I recommend watching via your local cycling broadcaster, if it’s not shown locally, look for streams here, here, here and here.
Of course, I’ll edit in more information as I see it, and I’m sorry it’s so confusing. It’s pretty sad that in 2017, the twitter women’s cycling detective club still gets baffled by trying to work out what’s going on. And if you, like me, find this really frustrating, I have some actions we can take to try to see live Ardennes racing, here.
BUT! Like usual, we can follow the full race on twitter.
How to follow the race without TV
Twitter should be easy, but the ASO is making it harder. They’ve been using #FWF2017 as the official hashtag, but less than 24 hours before the race, have told us the official hash is #FWwomen, and they seem to be using both… of course we can also follow on the #UCIWWT hash too, but who knows what’ll happen tomorrow. The race twitter is @flechewallonne, and maybe the easiest way to follow the live action is on my list of people tweeting live from the race.
It’s a very different route this year than in the recent iterations, with only 7 categorised climbs, compared to 11 in 2016, and it looks a lot less rolling in between too. Of course the Mur is the finish, as some things never change. But click the Route tab on the race website for a great set of information – map, profile, timings and more. There’s a description of the route here, too.
If this is just whetting your appetite and you want MUR! NOW! then head over to my collections of videos from last year, 2015, 2014 and 2013, to re-live the beauty – and here’s 2010 winner Emma Pooley about the race in 2014 (listen or read it), and Martine Bras talking about why it’s the best race to see in real life….. and my all-time favourite Flèche videos, Aussie superstar, Road Worlds silver medalist and ex-T-Mobile DS Anna Wilson (Millward) being interviewed climbing the Mur, and Vale Scandolara‘s idiosyncratic take (come back, Vale videos!)
Like always, I’ll put a collection of videos and media on the site after the race has finished.
It’s because of my Patreon supporters that I’m able to do this kind of women’s cycling work. You can join them from as little as £/€/$ 2 a month, over here.