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The moment you’ve been waiting for all winter is here: Pro road racing is back!
The moment you’ve been dreading all winter is also here: How the heck do I watch?
The past few years, the emergence of GCN+ as a one-stop shop for pretty much all your streaming race-coverage needs made it a simple endeavor for many, and moreso if you had a good VPN. But the unexpected shutdown of the service in late December has essentially pushed anyone outside of Europe back into the bad old days: unsure where (or whether) a race is being streamed, and wondering what the quality and access will be like.
We have some good news and bad news for you.
The good: most of the men’s and women’s WorldTour is still available online for streaming. The bad: depending on where you live, you’ll have to pay more, for more services, to access it all. In some regions, there are still unanswered questions about what that coverage will look like, specifically the calendar of what races are broadcast and how. Because of that, we’ve expanded this guide to cover our largest audience regions. Here’s what we know:
UK/Europe: Those of you in the UK (and mainland Europe) have the easiest transition. Substantially all major races will be on Discovery+ and/or the Eurosport app depending on your location. Your costs are low: Discovery+ is £6.99/month in the UK and similar in mainland Europe, although package and price specifics vary by country and it has not launched in all countries yet.
Australia: things are somewhat split up now. SBS holds rights to many major events, which will be streamed for free on its platform. Crucially, since most of the racing happens overnight, SBS offers on-demand replay.
Canada: FloBikes has long been a major player for streaming, as it owns Canadian rights to all ASO events in addition to the other races for which it also has US rights, like Flanders Classics’ slate of events. What FloBikes doesn’t have, however, are RCS’ races as well as a number of women’s events.
In both countries, there are major gaps in the coverage plans right now, as Warner Bros Discovery, which owns worldwide broadcast rights for a significant number of races, has not yet announced its coverage plans except for Europe and the U.S. “We hope to share more news over the next couple of weeks for some other territories,” a WBD spokesperson said in response to a request for comment.
United States: FloBikes, Max, and Peacock each own rights to important races on the calendar. The easiest way to think about the change is that GCN+ has been replaced by WBD’s Max. FloBikes has all the Flanders Classics events, plus World Championships. Max, which begins coverage on February 8, has the Giro d’Italia and other RCS events like Milan-San Remo and Strade Bianche. And Peacock has rights for all ASO events like the Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix, plus the Olympics. All three services will offer live and on-demand replay coverage.
The downside is that costs are substantially higher than last year: for Max, you’ll need both the main platform subscription and the Bleacher Report (B/R) Sports add-on package. And if you want to watch the entire WorldTour, you’ll need all three services. Costs? Read on for that and strategies to reduce them.
The best way to make sense of it all is our handy chart. It looks a little more sparse than last year, huh? Don’t freak out; it’s mostly a reflection of incomplete calendar listings and unannounced plans. SBS, for example, has only provided limited information about its full calendar.
The biggest wrinkle is what supplements FloBikes in Canada and SBS in Australia, and we hope to have that info soon. This spreadsheet will be regularly updated as we get new broadcast rights info, so bookmark this story for easy referral. Spot an error? Please drop it in the comments and we’ll fix.
Why isn’t my favorite event, the Tour of Northeastern Barbieland, on your chart?!
We’re focused here on the men’s and women’s WorldTour for several reasons. First, those are the most important races. Second, the chart gets hella long otherwise. Third, especially in a post-GCN+ world, some smaller events may not be streamed, because they’re just Ken. We’ve included a select number of lower-ranked events, in particular a few spring one-days where men’s and women’s races have different rankings. Check a service’s calendar for more complete information on streaming for lower-ranked races – there are many, for sure. Max says it will stream more than 300 races, for instance, so there’s a lot more out there than just WorldTour coverage.
Note: some of these calendars have date errors in them; most have limited visibility for events past this spring.
What about mountain bike and cyclocross racing?
The mountain bike World Cup will be on Max in the US, Discovery+ in Europe, and is TBD in Canada and Australia. As for cyclocross, rights for those events went very sideways with the GCN+ shutdown. Discovery+ picked up everything in Europe, but Australia was largely left in the dark. FloBikes ended up as the home for all major races in the US and Canada, but as soon as February, the rights for the Superprestige, Exact Cross, and X2O series shift back to Max and will stay there in 2024-2025. FloBikes continues to have the Cyclocross World Cup rights.
What’s going on with rights for women’s events?
Short version is that women’s racing is more in flux than men’s right now. In Europe, things should be more or less business as usual. Outside of Europe, it’s slightly touch and go. Peacock will broadcast all women’s ASO events in the U.S. FloBikes and Max cover most, but not all, of the rest of the WWT for U.S. audiences. Some late-season races aren’t yet on anyone’s calendars, and Australia and Canada are the big question marks at this time, pending WB Discovery’s plans.
How much will all this cost?
Again, for UK and Europe, you’re all set at £6.99/month UK and similar-but-not-identical pricing elsewhere in Europe for Discovery+ (UK subscribers won’t need the more-expensive tier unless you want a broader array of sports, like football; packages in other countries may vary). Lucky punks. SBS coverage in Australia is free, with other race coverage and costs TBD. Canada is $150/year for Flo, with other coverage and costs TBD. In the U.S., it gets spendy, as our table here shows:
|Billed annual w/ ads
|$6 (ads)/$12 (no ads)
|$10 (ads)/$16 (no ads)
|*B/R Sports add-on
|$150 (no ads)
|$150 (no ads)
|$670 (ads)/$816 (no ads)
Tiers with advertising are the obvious cost winner, but consider that ads on streaming run on an automatic schedule, meaning for, say, Paris-Roubaix you run the risk of a Heidi Game moment, where the decisive attack on the Carrefour de l’Arbre gets interrupted by a 30-second house ad for Girls 5 Eva. This is not a pitch for the ad-free tier (again, we make $0.00 on any subs you buy); it’s merely a reminder of a potential risk of the cheaper ads-included experience.
All three services auto-renew. For accounts billed annually, you can cancel anytime, but your subscription will still run to the end of its original term; there are no pro-rated refunds.
Can I watch for free?
You can! As we’ve said in past editions of this guide, we’re not going to blindly ignore that in 2024 things like VPNs exist to try to access free feeds from other rightsholders like Sporza or RAI. But they’re far from foolproof; streaming providers are getting better at blocking VPN use. You can try free pirate streams, but at the risk of exposing your computer to some potentially nasty stuff. The UCI’s own events are broadcast on its YouTube channel and can be accessed via VPN.
Why can’t I just sign up for Europe’s Discovery+ service and use a VPN to access streams like I did with GCN+?
Discovery+ isn’t available in all territories, for one, and the products differ. To access Europe’s Discovery+ service, you need a European Discovery+ account, which requires a credit card with a European billing address. There are potential workarounds, including using a virtual credit-card service like Wise, but the specifics are a little tricky. Another option is to have a friend in Europe willing to share their Discovery+ account with you (you’ll still need a VPN set to a European country to access coverage). If you signed up for a Eurosport streaming account in the pre-GCN+ era, you may find that you’re still able to access Eurosport content with a VPN.
OK, fine. But is there any way to cut down the subscription prices for legit rightsholders?
It depends on the service. One option is account sharing. FloBikes is stingiest on that front; you can only stream from one IP address at a time, so if you share login credentials only one household can watch live. Peacock and Max both allow separate user profiles and up to three concurrent streams on Peacock and two on Max. Both services explicitly say that password sharing outside your immediate household violates their terms of service. However, password sharing is a common practice, and neither company has (yet) cracked down on it.
Another option is the binge-and-cancel strategy: buy monthly subscriptions for important periods. FloBikes is probably the best candidate for this strategy for American viewers. Its most important races start with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on February 24 and end with Amstel Gold on April 14. WorldTour-level racing on FloBikes dries up after that, with just June’s Tour de Suisse, August’s Tour of Poland, and September’s World Championships (it has some smaller events as well, and FloBikes may add more in-season). So even with the hefty premium on monthly pricing, a two-month membership covering February 24-April 24 would be $60, a savings of $90 to the annual plan. Just don’t forget to cancel.
Peacock is also workable with this strategy: a March 3-May 3 membership gets you Paris-Nice, Volta Catalunya, Paris-Roubaix, Fleche Wallonne, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (the fly in the ointment is it ends two days before the Vuelta Femenina finishes). A four-month June 2-October 2 stretch gets you the Criterium du Dauphiné, the Tour de France, the Olympics, Tour de France Femmes, San Sebastian Classic, and the men’s Vuelta. Total cost: $36 for the with-ads Premium level, a savings of $24 over the annual membership. Again, don’t forget to cancel.
Wait, Flo says it is streaming the Tour!
Check again. One thing we really don’t like about FloBikes’ schedule is that the calendar doesn’t filter events based on your country. So you’ll see a bunch of ASO events in the schedule, but if you’re in the U.S. and click one it will say it’s not available where you live, because FloBikes owns those rights only in Canada. Sad trombone.
All this seems like a mess.
Could be worse! (But could be better.)
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