Follow and watch the 2017 Tour Series

9-29th May 2017

The Tour Series is the British summer series of races that’s intensive, adrenaline-filled and fantastic to watch, whether in real life or on the highlights.  There are ten races for the men, and eight of them alos have Matrix Fitness GP races for women in three weeks, from Motherwell in Scotland down to Bath in the South-West of England.

If you’re new to crits, they’re very fast races, LOTS of laps of very short courses – the race length is decided by number of laps to fit into the hour, rather than by distance, so on a cold, windy and rainy day, it will be a shorter distance than on a sunnier, calm day – but they always race for the same amount of time.

Crits are very spectator-friendly, as you get to see the riders pass over and over and over again,  and can easily walk the whole course and see them from different angles, and still get back to the finish, where there’s a commentator explaining it all.  On top of that, the Tour Series put on entertainment and stalls, including lots to eat and drink alongside the racing, so they’re really fun afternoon/evenings for everyone, whether you’re a hardcore fan or a complete newbie.  I really recommend getting to one of the rounds, if you’re near one.  I’ll be in Bath on 20th May, and if you want to hang out, leave me a comment or tweet me, and we can watch together!

There’s more on crit racing on wikipedia, and more about how the Tour Series specifically works on their website.

TV and social media

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Live women’s racing – watch the 2017 Tour of Chong Ming Island, Papendal BMX Supercross World Cup Live and follow the Redlands Classic

Two women’s cycling races to watch live, and one to follow!

The Tour of Chong Ming Island, 5-7th May

This is the ninth round of the Women’s WorldTour, and the first to leave Europe.  Three stages on ChongMing Island, in the Yangtze River, connected to Shanghai by tunnel and bridge.  It’s definitely one for the sprinters, completely flat, and with the Island being 80km long and 18km wide, there’s not much variety in the course – but the nature reserves on the island make it really interesting to watch.

It’s live on Chinese TV station CCTV5, with streams popping up, posted by ProCyclingStats and Peter van der Veen, but be aware, my virus guards won’t let me into the streams because of malware.

You can also get very occasional updates on twitter, with the results and a couple of photos, on the UCI WorldTour twitter, and the #UCIWWT and #ChongMingIsland hashtags.   I can’t find a website with timings on it, but the UCI twitter is helpfully posting things like start times and route maps.  There will be daily highlights on the UCI YouTube as well, like this, from Stage 1, and on the Wiggle High5 YouTube.

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2017 BMX Supercross World Cup #1, Papendal

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Watch live women’s cycling this weekend! 2017 Festival Elsy Jacobs, Tour de Yorkshire, some USA Crits – AND the Lourdes Downhill MTB World Cup!

It has to be said, that the coverage we got from the Ardennes Week wasn’t the greatest, with such exciting racing that was effectively invisible.  But this weekend, all that changes – there are SEVEN separate races streamed live, and we can watch them all.  Strap in, and I’ll tell you how to watch the Festival Elsy Jacobs in Luxembourg, the Asda Women’s Tour de Yorkshire, and three separate rounds of Speed Week, the opening salvo of the USA Crits series.  UPDATE!  And I can’t believe I forgot, but there’s also the first round of the 2017 Downhill MTB World Cup, in Lourdes, which will be incredible, as well as live!

Before I start, however, this may be the best piece of race social media this year, if not ever…  I love it!

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Festival Elsy Jacobs, 28-30th April 2017

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Follow the 2017 Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Omloop van Borsele live

It’s the last full Spring Classics weekend, and it goes out with a bang!  There’s the first ever women’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the climax of the first ever women’s Ardennes Week, but before that, the EPZ Omloop van Borsele: a cobbley sprinters’ Classic, with an ITT for the elite women, and a three-stage Junior women’s race, the last round of the UCI’s Nations Cup.

Of course, Liège is the biggest race, but sadly we can’t expect a livestream.  We can hope for highlights to be shown in the men’s race coverage, and a Periscope view of the finishline, but I’ll tell you how we can follow the race live… But first, Borsele.

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Follow the 2017 women’s Flèche Wallonne live

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?

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Watch the 2017 women’s Amstel Gold Race live

Sunday 16th April 2017

We haven’t had a women’s Amstel Gold for 14 years, and then it only ran for a few iterations, so having a women’s Amstel Gold Race is an enormous deal, especially for the Dutch riders – and we all know that the Netherlands is the superpower of women’s cycling, so this will be a toughly-fought race.

It’s also the start of the first ever women’s Ardennes week – Amstel on Sunday 16th April, then the only women’s Ardennes race of recent times, Flèche Wallonne, on Wednesday 19th, finishing on Sunday 23rd, with the first ever women’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège.  This makes it one of the most important weeks in the cycling calendar, and with major races having run every weekend since the Omloop het Nieuwsblad opened the season on 26th April, it’s been the toughest Classics season in modern women’s cycling. 2017 truly is the year everything’s changed – and in a season where one of the best things has been the increase in televised women’s races, it’s good that we get to see the 40 minutes at least.

It’s going to be a fantastic race, full of climbs – 17 in total, in the 121km route, including 4 times over the legendary Cauberg, the last ascent just 1.1km from the finish-line.  It’ll be tough, and beautiful, the course lined with ecstatic Dutch fans hoping one of their countrywomen can win.

So how do we watch?

The race starts at 10:40 European CEST (9:40am UK BST; 4:40am North American EDT; 6:40pm Australian AEST) and the TV stream should start at 13:25 CEST (12:25 BST; 7:25am EDT; 9:25pm AEST) – you can watch on TV in the Netherlands, on NOS Studio Sport, on France 3 in France, on the pay-to-watch Eurosport Player, and on Australian Eurosport from 9:30pm AEST)

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How to watch the 2017 women’s Ronde van Vlaanderen – LIVE!

Sunday 2nd April 2017

OK, this is exciting!  The Ronde van Vlaanderen, the Tour of Flanders, is one of the high points of the women’s cycling calendar, and the end of a mini-cobbled classics season.  It’s Round 5 of the Women’s WorldTour, but more importantly, it’s a legend of the sport.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that 90% of the peloton dream of winning this – it’s up there with an Olympic Gold, a World Championships rainbow jersey, winning the Giro, because this is a race all cycling fans love, and being a winner of De Ronde is something that will bring kudos for all a rider’s life, in the key cycling country.  And this year…. WE CAN WATCH LIVE!  Not the whole race, but the last part – the fourth WorldTour race we’ve been able to see.

If you’re in Belgium, you can watch it on Belgian TV station Proximus, on channel 600 and their website, if you’re a subscriber.  You’ll need to check the local TV guide to get the exact times – I think it’s 10:55, but it may start later.  There may be feeds of this here, here or here.

If you’re NOT in Belgium, you can watch the last 35km, on the Flanders Classic facebook and on the Flanders Classic websiteThe stream will start at 13:30 European CEST (12:30pm UK BST; 7:30am USA EDT; 9:30pm Australian AEST).  The stream will be commentated by ex-pro and Wiggle-High5 owner Rochelle Gilmore, and… me!

If you missed it live, you can watch a stream replay on the Flanders Classic facebook – and of course, I’ll put up a post of links to videos etc as soon as I see them.

The women’s race finish may also be shown live during the men’s race TV coverage – if that’s not on your local TV, try the feeds here, here or here.

In addition, the team presentation will be livestreamed on the Proximus facebook. on Saturday, between 16:20 and 18:00 CET (from 3:20pm UK BST, 10:20am EDT; 1:15am AEDT)

But that’s not all!  We can also follow the race as it happens, on twitter – and read on for lots more race information.

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