03 July 2014

How to watch the 2014 Tour de France


The best of the best of Media covering the 2014 Tour de France

It's July and for the next three weeks I plan to be very busy in the wee hours of the morn. I plan to be watching the Tour de France - Live! I won't be in France this year to see the race live in person, but that is fine because being at home means I will actually get to really watch the race. This year I have high hopes of being surprised and I like being surprised in real time. When I know that millions around the world are reacting the same as me to that crash or attack or surprise win. 

I typically ignore most of the talk about who is going to win the Tour de France (Contador or Froome, or maybe better yet, a surprise). No matter who the media throws at us as the top-10 contenders, we all know stuff happens in the Tour de France. Crashes, illness, time cut-offs, politics, and fate. That is why LIVE is what it is all about when it comes to watching the Tour de France.

Camera TV perched high on mountain tops.  Photo © by Karen at Pedal Dancer®

The facts of race coverage

It takes over 100 TV Channels (60 live) and 2000 media members to cover just 22 teams and 198 riders in Le Tour. In 190 countries around the world, 3.5 billion people watched coverage of the Tour de France in 2013 (12 million were spectators along the roadside).

Don't tell me who won

My brother has this annoying habit (annoying to me, not to him), of recording the stage and watching it when dinner is prepared and all the dishes are cleaned, pets are fed and he and his wife can sit down with unfolded napkins on lap and forward through the commercials. That may sound dandy, but it leaves me alone at 7:10am (12 hours earlier) wanting to talk about who just cracked or crashed. I spend much of July trying not to ruin the stage results for others, but that is because there are so many ways to now watch the Tour de France.

For those of us who like to feel that collective energy of watching the Tour de France while it is happening, here is how to do it.

My viewing plan in a nutshell - these are my favorites:


TV Schedule Coverage of the Tour de France

Tour de France 2014: British Eurosport TV schedule (Greg LeMond has teamed up with Eurosport)

France TV 3 TV Schedule

Tour de France 2014: ITV TV schedule (David Millar to join ITV Cycling for Tour de France coverage)

NBC Sports TV Schedule for Tour de France 2014 NBCSN and NBC (free) (Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen announce for NBC, Christian VandeVelde, Todd Harris and Bob Roll announce for NBC Sports Network TV. You will hear these announcers spliced together) *US Only

Camera motos line up at the start

Paid Live Online Links - this is the best bet for those without satellite, in the US

NBC Sports Tour de France Live - web access ($29.99) or mobile access ($14.99)*. You can in fact watch your web coverage on desktop and laptop both under the same subscription. There is no package for desktop and mobile. Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen only online (no Christian Vande Velde commentary unfortunately) *US Only

NBC, restricted to US, restrictions apply: 
Latest version of Adobe Flash Player required.
To gain access on iOS 6.0+ devices, visit the iTunes store to download the NBC Sports Tour de France Live 2014 app.
To gain access on Android 2.3+ devices, visit the Google Play store to download the NBC Sports Tour de France Live 2014 app.
Purchase of service must be made on intended viewing device.
Access cannot be transferred between desktop and tablet/mobile devices.
Service only available for US customers.

Live Stream Tour de France - $9.99/month for 3-months

Free Live Online Links - you run the risk of commercials interfering with key moments, * plus many of these channels are geo restricted, but I rely on these links for many races.

My guess is you are either a regular of Steephill.TV or CyclingFans.com, it depends how you like your cycling links organized and presented. Both websites offer daily links to live coverage and news that will work on a desktop computer and might work on your devices. Broadcasters include: Sporza, Raj, France TV 2, iTv 4, rtl, rtve, rtv, rtbf, espn international, nos.nl, tsn2, rds, j sports, super sport, Rai Sport 2, Rai 3, nos, rtbf, rtl, sf zwei, 2 sportin, rmc.

Steephill.TV Tour de France page of links to articles, video, free live viewing (*good source of NBC video clips).

CyclingFans.com Tour de France page of links to articles, video, free live viewing

Live Texts

Cycling News Live Text Coverage. Just the race coverage as it happens.

Live Update Guy - Charles Pelkey, join in the fun at every stage of this year's Tour. Somewhat dilluted comments, plus you will spend much of your time reading requests for tips, it does offer nice pre-stage history and a feeling of belonging to a small pack of fellow spectators.

Live Tickers & Trackers

Official ASO Live Ticker Le Tour web. Good.

Team Sky offers a live race tracker

Live Apps

NBC Sports Tour de France Live app for mobile ($14.99). *The paid app is separate from the Online product. The two paid products are not compatible or transferable. *US Only

Official ASO Le Tour app for mobile. Good.

CyclingNews Tour Tracker app for mobile

For the following territories, please check the availability of a mobile app on the local TV Broadcaster website:
Photographers at the 2012 Tour de France.  Photo © by Karen at Pedal Dancer®

Go straight to Le Tour website and dig around through all it offers.

Video preview or recaps

Tour Talk with Frankie and James for Bicycling Magazine. My favorite every year.

Cycling.TV TDF recaps (not live), watch the race when convenient to you (international packages vary) $29.99 quarterly.

How The Race Was Won series by Cyclocosm (some stages)

Race Video Libraries

Geraint Thomas (videos) 

Global Cycling Network

Cycling Central SBS

Bicycling Tour Video

You could also just go to the YouTube 2014 Tour de France search

Team Video Libraries

Team Sky Race Videos

Orica-Greenedge Backstage Pass Videos

Photography & Video

Jared and Ashley Gruber and Kristof Ramon (Kramen), three of the best photographers in the sport of cycling have teamed up this year to offer photography to Scott, producer of the Moments in Sport website. See their combined work at this website Moments of Tour de France.

Follow the travels of two amazing photographers -  Iri Greco and Jim Frye of Brake Through Media: Brake through on the road
Huge numbers of press at the Tour de France
News websites blasting headlines your way

Cycling News
Cycling Weekly
Pez Cycling

Podcasts fun to listen to the chat post race, some are paid, some are free

The Telegraph Cycling Podcast * hosted by Richard Moore, Lionel Birnie and Daniel Friebe

iTv Tour de France podcast * hosted by Gary Imlach, Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwen, Chris Bordman, Ned Boulting, Matt Rendell or J Douglas, with many guests.

BBC Radio Bespoke at the Tour de France podcast hosted by Rob Hatch, Rob Hayles and team

Cycling Weekly 2014 Tour de France podcast hosted by various hosts and guests

Velocast Podcast with Scott and John, paid £7.99/month, Velocast Daily News podcast free

VeloVoices (preview only, occasional podcasts, not daily) hosted by Chris, Kathi and Tim.

Fans watch the stage roadside


I use twitter to read what the real riders post. I love seeing their photos or reactions. Twitter is also good to find out more about a big happening in the race or hot topic. Besides that the usual suspects in the cycling world on Twitter drive me nuts. Here is a quick follow list for all riders in the 2014 Tour de France on Twiter by Velofacts: https://twitter.com/velofacts/tour-de-france-2014/members or the list of entourage at the Tour: https://twitter.com/velofacts/lists/tour-de-france-entourage

To this list of teams I also like following @MattRabin @letour  ‏@TDWsport @DanWouri @theRaceRadio @Friebos @kristoframon @jeredgruber @FakieFrankie @BMCProTeam  @CraigLewis85 and Chef @KimRokjaer (I like food!) 

Team Facebook Pages
Photographers waiting at the finish line for that one perfect photo

Follow the Blogs

The Cycling Podcast blog (Richard Moore, Lionel Birnie, Daniel Friebe)
Hardly Serious (Jens Voigt)
I am Ted King (Ted King)
Geraint Thomas (videos)
Cycling Tips (excellence!)
Peloton Magazine
Tour de France moto blog Luke Evans for Cycling Weekly 
Follow the Tour Companies

I like following the Bike Tour Companies as they bring their clients (the regular folk) through France and live the tour is real life. In Situ Travel, Thomson Bike Tours, VeloClassic, Bikestyle, Velo Peloton.

Read the Race Previews

Tour de France - overall preview and favorites C-Cycling
Tour ’14: The PEZ Preview! Pez Cycling
Team Sky Race Guide Sky Pro Cycling

In 2014, 10 stages will be broadcast in their entirety (9 in 2013, 7 in 2012) - these are also the must watch stages!

1: Leeds – Harrogate / Saturday 5th July
2: York – Sheffield / Sunday 6th July
3: Cambridge – London / Monday 7th July
4: Le Touquet Paris-Plage – Lille Métropole / Tuesday 8th July
5: Ypres – Arenberg Porte du Hainaut / Wednesday 9th July
10: Mulhouse – La Planche des Belles Filles / Monday 14th July
14: Grenoble – Risoul / Saturday 19th July
17: Saint-Gaudens – Saint-Lary Pla d’Adet / Wednesday 23rd July
18: Pau – Hautacam / Thursday 24th July
20: Bergerac ITT! / Saturday 26th July
21: Evry – Paris / Sunday 27th July

Much more by Pedal Dancer on my Guide Page: TOUR DE FRANCE

All photos in this post by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®