The first Grand Tour of 2016 is due to get underway tomorrow and there is no better way to follow the action than a live broadcast.
Most cycling fans in Europe will be busy at work when the Giro kicks off in Apeldoorn (Netherlands) tomorrow at 13:45 CEST, but this won’t deter many from setting up a sneaky live feed on their smartphones or, for people in cycling-friendly offices such as the one I used to work in, from re-assigning their secondary monitor to broadcasting duties.
It’s easy to take live race coverage for granted, but it isn’t the same everywhere.
There are a limited number of official broadcasters that work with Giro organiser RCS Sport to bring coverage to various countries in Asia, but quality broadcasts are far from widespread. With this in mind, Cycling iQ checked in with a few dedicated road cyclists from nine different countries in Asia to see how they will be tuning in to the Tour of Italy this month, what some of the issues might be, and even who might win. [Click here for large version of below graphic, which includes official broadcasters]
IRAN | CEST +3.5
“As usual, we check the results & news via ProCyclingStats and Cyclingnews. We use the RAI Sport channel when watching the Giro live on satellite TV. For the Tour de France, we watch Iran’s sport channel (Varzesh) which covers it live.”
– IRANCycling, speciality media channel
INDIA | CEST +3.5
“As far as I know, Eurosport, which will be broadcasting the Giro, isn’t offered by my DTH operator (Tata Sky) here in India. So, I’ll end up streaming it off Steephill/CyclingFans/CyclingHub. I enjoy being able to watch it streamed on my computer, so I can follow all the #hashtag action from the couch pro’s, teams, and pro’s on Twitter, along with the official race dashboard for live telemetrics/race info.
I also like being able to Googl-analyze and Wiki-vestigate rider/stage/and route info/history on the side. Official commentary doesn’t do anything for me really. Sean Kelly is pretty off with the predictions anyways, Liggett’s metaphors sounds more and more recycled with every year. The Aussies on SBS (Keenan, Robbie, et al) tend to offer something a little different, as do the GCN guys (Matt and Dan), but you never know what you’ll end up with when streaming off Steephill’s/CyclingFan’s listings.
Inevitably the stream will die on me in the last kilometres of the important stages, so I typically look to the official post-race stage highlights for the last km’s. Then, there’s r/peloton for all the pre-race predictions and build-up, not to mention, the Gif’s and video loop’s showcasing Nibali’s descending skills, the Caleb vs. Kittel sprints, and the cringe-worthy crashes.
Post-stage, there’s the seemingly never-ending wait for the OGE BSP’s, the Velon clips are nice too, and I’m looking forward to the live in-race footage that’s being talked about this year. For me, the Giro is always more exciting to follow since it’s a little bit more of an open race, and I’m looking forward to Tom surprising the pundits by making it to the podium again.”
– Naveen John (Bangalore), pro cyclist with State of Matter MAAP
“I’ll watch online at Steephill TV. Access to a quality live feed is like an obstacle race… I wouldn’t mind paying for it. I normally hunt for a live feed on Steephill with an english commentary. In some races I end up watching the live feed with the foreign language audio feed muted.”
– Chenthil Mohan (Bangalore), photographer
“I’ll watch online at Steephill TV with what ever ads are going through it – which is quite an embarrassment when kids and family are watching with me. It would be the lowest possible resolution also.”
– Deepak Majipatil (Bangalore), Tour of Nilgiris race organizer
INDONESIA | CEST +5
“Well for sure I’ll find a stream and if I really have no connection my girlfriend can show me on Skype with a cam in front of my TV 😉 – I have a login on Eurosport player. Time difference is not a problem. I work till midnight here (so 5-6 PM in Europe) and after that peak, co-director Bert Lip will do the rest.
I use my Macbook air and my iPhone 6. If I have no WiFi I can use my phone (with 4G Indonesian SIM card) as a personal hotspot. When I was in Indonesia in November 2014, I did the same as the mobile network here is pretty good. So I have internet really everywhere and data is cheap (about 2 dollars for 1GB mobile data).
I think Nibali is the favourite but I’d really like to see a hard competition with Valverde, Zakarin, Uran and Landa. As a Dutchman, I’d love to see Tom Dumoulin in pink but his main target isn’t GC.”
– Stephan van der Zwan (currently in Jakarta enroute to Tour de Banyuwangi Ijen), Owner ProCyclingStats
THAILAND | CEST +5
“I will watch the Giro on Eurosport via CyclingTorrents.nl. This will typically be the British Eurosport coverage. In the past, I could watch the Giro (and other cycling events) on Eurosport Asia but my satellite provider dropped the network at the end
of 2014. Probably another satellite provider here in Thailand airs Eurosport Asia, but it’s easier to watch via torrent than look for a new satellite provider that might change programming again. I rarely watch races live so streaming doesn’t interest me. There are a couple of Thai networks that provide 30-minute stage highlights – it would be better if they provided full-stage, live coverage!”
– Chris Raad (Bangkok), cycling fan
CHINA | CEST +6
“China is new to cycling. About eight years ago, most cycling fans in China just know the Tour de France. They seldom hear Giro, Vuelta, Classics, etc. With more and more guys loving cycling, especially road cycling, in China, many of them began to follow road races. Five years ago, I started to write articles in BBS (Bulletin Board Systems) and China’s Twitter (Weibo) for all major road races like Grand Tours, Classics, and other WT races. More and more fans became involved and began to watch and learn about races.
About five years ago, there was no broadcaster/platform to watch the Giro except the online pirate channels. Then in 2013, a small sports company named Hysport sent two journalists to the Giro to interview and make highlights for every stage. But most of the fans still watch the pirate channels (mostly through sopcast at that time because most of the available pirate channels are blocked by China’s Great Fire Wall).
In 2015, the burgeoning network broadcaster/platform LeTV began their ambitious plan, they threw huge money to buy all three Grand Tour’s broadcast rights for the first time in Chinese cycling history. In the past, people in China only saw the delayed signal by CCTV, the national TV channel and only saw the Tour de France at midnight (about 3 hours late). Suddenly, all people could now watch all three Grand Tours, classic races, and most WT races through LeTV, and most of them have Chinese commentators. So now, we have LeTV as the online broadcaster (unluckily, there is still no cable TV broadcaster for any cycling races except the Tour). We have BBS organizing mass viewings, writing Giro previews online, and we have a fantastic cycling manager game – it’s all pretty similar to Western countries now. Finally, in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, the major cities in China, some cycling fans will also gather in some cycling shops/cafes to watch Giro stages and drink beer.
I will watch LeTV most of time. But if the feed is not stable, sometimes I will try CyclingHub.”
– Coimbrawu (Guangzhou), cycling blogger
“I always watch the race at LeTV. It is free, we do not need to pay. Because of bad internet speed, even though I want to use VPN, it does not work.”
– Charles Sun (Hainan), member of Tour of Hainan organising committee
“I will watch it on LeTV and commentate for one week of the race.”
– Chain Zou (Shanghai), LeTV commentator and owner of Chain’s Sprockets bike shop
MALAYSIA | CEST +6
“Over here we have the Giro and most races live on Eurosport. Coverage now is already good compared to what we had before. I remember just 10 years ago, we were limited to reading live text on the Eurosport website on all major races. Then later we had to subscribe to CyclingTV and such online streaming sites. It used to be a hassle to get up-to-date views of the race, unless you were willing to just let it go and wait for the reports to appear in newspapers (very little), sometimes in the TV sports news slots, or we even used to buy the Giro or Tour de France DVD’s to see the whole race a month later.
Now we get the vast majority of big races live on TV. The 2016 Paris Roubaix was the first where we got to see the whole race. Usually it’s always the final hour or so. The only way Eurosport could be better in that sense is if we had it in HD over here. To complement what we get on TV, we just have to follow the teams or riders on Twitter, where most will have updates from the race from their perspective. Overall, this is already a fantastic experience if we have the time to spare to just sit down and enjoy the bike race every day. I really wouldn’t complain apart from Eurosport not being in HD.”
– Arnaz M. Khairul (Kuala Lumpur), Sports Journalist
“I’ll watch on TV and online through ASTRO (Malaysia’s paid satellite TV service which hosts Eurosport), cycling websites + Youtube.”
– Aaron Lee (Kuala Lumpur), photographer
PHILIPPINES | CEST +6
“Unfortunately, I think I only can watch the first two stages and last four stages because I will be in Indonesia for Tour de Ijen and Tour de Flores. In the Philippines, it’s almost a miracle to watch a live race…internet is not so fast and it isn’t easy to get Eurosport on TV.”
– Eddy Nieto (Dagupan City), pro cyclist with 7 Eleven-Sava RBP
SINGAPORE | CEST + 6
I’ll be watching the Giro on cable TV (Eurosport). I also caught some of the classics races recently, such as Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
– Dean Koh (Singapore), former Editor of Spin Asia magazine
JAPAN | CEST +7
“There’s live TV coverage everyday by JSports. I have no chance to watch it in Japan (I’m in Italy!) but normally people watch it at home. In these years more and more sports-pubs or cafés have live viewing, for example Rapha Cycle Club in Tokyo and Osaka. Winner’s pick: 1) Landa; 2) Valverde; 3) Uran.”
– Kei Tsuji (usually Osaka, but currently in the Netherlands ahead of the Giro), photographer
“For watching cycling races, thanks to Japanese cable TV channel JSports we can watch almost all World Tour races live. It’s very happy for us. But I don’t have a contract with that channel, I often use internet streaming.”
– Takkumi Beppu (Nagoya), Aisan Racing Team Manager
KOREA | CEST +7
“Sure, I’m going to watch the Giro d’Italia in Korea. Mostly people watch using internet platforms. Me too. It’s cheaper and easy to connect to mobile phone. Other people (including bike shops) use a cable TV service. What I like are Spring Classic races, major World Tour races and World Championships. I try to watch the races that are broadcast by Eurosports as much as possible.”
– Albert Seo (Seoul), SCOTT North Asia General Manager
NEW ZEALAND | CEST +10
As usual, Cycling iQ will be tuning in to SBS Australia’s Cycling Central – in my opinion, the commentary team of Matt Keenan, Robbie McEwen, Henk Vogels and Mike Tomalaris is one of the best in the game. Andiamo!