Hi 'cross fans! It's time to revisit our options for streaming cyclocross and other bicycle racing, updated with new info for the 2020/21 season.
Clearly, the COVID-19 pandemic has shuffled the professional and amateur racing calendars quite a bit, so this article reflects the state of things as they sit today. While races are being cancelled in the USA, they are moving forward with new dates in Europe, for the most part. I've updated last year's guide with pandemic-related changes, plus added information about a newly-released streaming option, GCN Race Pass too.
I hope this guide helps you tune in to some live races. Let's begin with a review of the paid options:
GCN Race Pass
GCN, one of the most popular cycling media organizations has in the past delivered quite a bit of free race content, including professional cyclocross. They've done a great job bringing European cyclocross to the USA, primarily by streaming live on the Facebook and Youtube platforms, with commentary in English by retired pros like Jeremy Powers.
Updated November 2020 - I've done a full test and write-up of the GCN Race Pass subscription you should read.
* a caveat - this is a worldwide service, but for the purposes of this article, I'm only considering the races that GCN Race Pass has the rights to stream in the USA.
They've recently launched a new paid product - Race Pass, on a subscription model. As of this writing, this is the list of races they'll be covering:
- The 5 monuments: Milan-San Remo, The Tour of Lombardy, Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
- The Telenet Superprestige Cyclocross series
- Ethias Cross series
- Azencross, Kasteelcross, Scheldecross, Koppenbergcross, and Kortrijk cyclocross coverage (a pretty robust list)
- only Highlights of the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, and Vuelta Grand Tours (apparently not live)
- Plus about 15 other minor classics and smaller local stage races, like the Tour of Poland and the Tour de l’Avenir
In addition to the live races, there is also a new weekly show, World of Cycling, reserved for Race Pass subscribers.
GCN Race Pass can be accessed on your web browser or via a mobile phone app, and costs $49.99 yearly (introductory offer of $39.99 available until August 12, 2020.
While you're here, get a code for $5 off your first order at RideCX.com:
Claim this offer
NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass
NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass is a streaming-only service. As of this writing, signup on their website appears to have been replaced by an interest list where you can enter your email address to be notified. It looks like they plan to resume their subscription-only streaming service in conjunction with the rescheduled start of the Tour de France - now August 29, 2020.
As in previous years, NBC Sports Gold cycling pass subscriptions don't run for 365 days - instead, they run through the start of the Tour de France next year. This means that NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass becomes a worse value as the year passes - the best time to subscribe is when the Tour de France starts, in order to get almost 365 days out of it.
Cycling Pass is only online and not on cable/satellite. In previous years it has cost $54.99 annually, but pricing and availability hasn't been announced yet for 2020/21. With this subscription you can watch on iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and more.
The cyclocross-specific bits: NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass previously had an exclusive on the cyclocross World Cup, however, they no longer carry those events. For streaming of the World Cups, please see FloBikes, below.
Cycling Pass remains the primary paid coverage option for the three grand tours, plus some Spring classics, but has some new competition this year with the Race Pass from GCN now offering overlapping coverage of some events.
FloBikes is the most expensive of the streaming options for cycling fans at $12.50 a month or $150 yearly, but also offers a substantial streaming calendar.
Unlike NBC Sports Gold, FloBikes doesn't appear to be on hold, and they've updated their streaming calendar to reflect the many re-scheduled events. If you want to tune into elite level racing almost every day, FloBikes is your likely best choice.
In December 2020, FloBikes announced a new deal with the UCI to stream the World Championships in road, MTB, cyclocross, track, BMX, plus the cyclocross World Cup, to USA subscribers. This is the new source for the World Cups, replacing NBC Sports Gold Cycling pass.
In previous years, FloBikes has offered the DVV Trophy series - Trek sometimes provides that one free in the USA (see below), however, Trek's feed might not be in English, while FloBikes will have English language announcing, so that's where some of your $$$ goes.
As in previous years, in addition to cyclocross Flo has Strade Bianchi, the road monuments, track worlds, etc.
In previous years, Fubo.TV was more like a cable provider than a single channel. It was a bucket subscription, inside that bucket you could get multiple channels, including NBCSN, plus local sports networks if you follow baseball or hockey.
That's different now for 2002, you no longer need the base Fubo.TV option and can now independently subscribe to Cycling Pass. It costs $119.99, and ends on Dec 31, 2020 - which means the best time to sign up was earlier this year, and it becomes less of a value as time passes.
No cyclocross events currently appear on the Fubo Cycling Pass calendar :(
The main draws are the Giro d'Italia; the service also offers re-runs of historic races, a nice bonus.
With the addition of GCN Race Pass, that makes 4 paid options now available in the USA. Let's now review the free options:
Don't confuse GCN Racing with GCN Race Pass. Race Pass is a new (paid) subscription, while GCN Racing's social media streams have historically been free.
Updated November 2020 - Unfortunately, the GCN Race Pass (paid subscription) introduction seems to have marked the end of the free GCN Racing streams on Facebook and YouTube.
You can't beat free! GCN's pass broadcast team has included high-level expert broadcasters like multi-time national champion Jeremy Powers, and it's in English too. You can comment and interact with live chat, since these streams have been on Facebook and Youtube.
Occassionaly you'll find that GCN Racing only has broadcast rights in certain countries; if you find you're locked out with a "this stream is not available in your country", see the notes about using a VPN, below.
To get an alert each time they start a live stream, follow on Facebook.
Trek DVV Trophy Series
Updated November 2020 - it appears that Trek will not offer their streams this year. The below info about Trek streams is for info purposes only.
Trek has been generously streaming the DVV Trophy series from their website for the past few years, for free. It's often not in English, or sometimes there is no commentary at all - but you can't beat free.
Last year, Red Bull beverages brought very high level production quality cyclocross streams to the USA, including the UCI Cyclocross World Cup events. Availability varies by country so check their list to see eligible countries and see the note about VPN below if you're "geo-blocked".
As of November 2002, nothing appears on the Red Bull site about 2020/21 cyclocross streams - so it appears that may not happen this season.
EKZ (Switzerland) is an annual cyclocross series. It might be considered a "second-tier" series, compared with the Superprestige, but still attracts big talent, who often use the EKZ races as tune-ups or opportunities to grab UCI points.
For 2020/21, EKZ CrossTour is live streaming the races on their Facebook page, free of charge and with no geo-restriction.
USA Cycling / national championships
In the past few years, USA Cycling has really splashed out for great audio/video coverage of the USA Elite Cyclocross National Championships. Always free, always in English, with great commentary from retired expert athletes like Meredith Miller, Tim Johnson, and so on.
The 2020 Cyclocross National Championship was cancelled by USA Cycling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I expect they will resume streaming next year.
Using a VPN for cyclocross streaming
Each streaming provider only has broadcast rights in certain countries, so it's fairly common to run into the dreaded "this video is not available in your country" error message. It's not the fault of the streaming provider - they'd love to show it to you, but they have to make a best effort to honor their contracts, which means blocking some countries. Usually (but not always) if you are "geo-blocked" it means that some other provider is streaming the event.
A way to work around this is to hook your computer or device up with a VPN. A VPN is sort of a "fake-out" tool that tricks the streaming provider into thinking your location is in a different country. The best VPN I've found for streaming cyclocross is NordVPN, primarily because you can simply click in their app to choose a different country on the fly, until you find one that works for your stream.
Unfortunately, quality VPNs are not free, however, once you're a subscriber you can use them for all sort of non-sports streaming as well, like Netflix, so they're a handy tool.
Streaming Other Cyclocross Races
Wondering why you don't see "second-tier" races on the streaming calendar? Setting up multiple cameras for live streaming, paying for internet connectivity, and so on is very expensive so usually only bigger races with a larger audience are streamed. The next best thing is some of the post-race wrap-up coverage from the community, including:
I hope this list helps you out, and if I missed anything, please let me know using @RideCX on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.