The launch of the Global Cycling Network (GCN) Race Pass sees races that were previously locked off on Eurosport now a lot more simply accessed for less expense.
From $60 for a full year of access to GCN Race Pass, there is an impressive array of races for Australian cycling fans, who have in the past been restricted to watching on Eurosport through pay tv.
In 2020, the way to watch racing became more onerous still, with the purchase of a Fetch TV set-top box (RRP $169) alongside a Eurosport subscription for $8.99 per month the only way to access live coverage of the majority of the racing outside of using a VPN.
SBS has always been there for live free-to-air cycling coverage with the Tour de France and the ASO-run races like Paris-Roubaix, La Vuelta and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, as well as providing highlights on their website for other races. Fair use copyright laws in Australia limit these highlights to 90 seconds of vision from those other races.
The GCN Race Pass appears a lot more simple process for those looking to watch cycling, as well as being significantly cheaper than the Fetch option or even slightly cheaper than using a VPN and accessing Eurosport as a UK resident.
There’s currently an offer on for a subscription of $60 a year (normally $65, Eurosport Player would be $108 a year, but you can opt out when there’s no cycling on, plus it gives you other sports), which given the racing being jam-packed into the back-half of the 2020 season, offers an extra little bit of value for money.
It offers additional utility as well, with race profiles, teams and riders available for perusal on the mobile app, plus news feeds with various topics like News, Tech and Community.
It’s worth noting at this point that a lot of users are complaining about the recent update to the app, with many noting that some features don’t work like they used to. Certainly, a few features are still experiencing difficulties. While having a look around the app for this article, a number of pages were not populated… also the news feed didn’t feature any Australian Cycling Insider articles.
The main deficiency is a lack of race coverage of women’s races, with just two road race days outside of what is covered on SBS free-to-air.
GCN have a good collection of analysts and commentators, but there hasn’t been any clarification as to whether they are doing their own production of the races, or just taking the world feed from the race organisers and making that available to viewers. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, and it’s certainly better than nothing, but a decent production does offer a lot more for the viewer to engage with.
For Australian viewers, the main races added are the Giro d’Italia, Milan-Sanremo and Giro Il Lombardia. There are a host of other WorldTour events, interesting high-profile ‘Pro’ level events and a lot of the big cyclocross races, but the Giro and those monuments are the highest profile races that you can’t watch free-to-air on SBS.
The Tour de France and the World Championships aren’t included within the live coverage list, both are covered free to air on SBS. SBS also holds non-exclusive rights to the ASO-run classics, so it’s more than possible to get a decent chunk of the racing season for free on TV, if you don’t want to fork out for the extra races.
The only mens WorldTour races that won’t be shown by either SBS or GCN (women’s racing is another matter), are the Canadian classics and the Tour of Guangxi.
In total the GCN Race Pass offers access to 41 races that won’t be shown free-to-air, though that’s a lot of race days when you consider all those stage races in there. Full list of races available in Australia is below.
By Jamie Finch-Penninger
GCN was contacted for clarification on some of the issues raised above, Dan Lloyd’s responses can be found here. I’ll also declare that I have a vested interest in this as an employee for SBS, working mostly when there’s live SBS coverage of racing.
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GCN Race List:
Strade Bianche (World Tour Mens and Womens)
Tour de Pologne (World Tour)
Tour de l’Ain
Milan-Sanremo (World Tour)
Criterium du Dauphine (World Tour- also free to air on SBS)
Giro Il Lombardia (World Tour)
Tour de L’Avenir (last two stages)
Bretagne Classic – Ouest-France (World Tour)
GP de Plouay
La Course by Le Tour (Womens- also free to air on SBS)
Brussels Cycling Classic
Tirreno-Adriatico (World Tour)
Tour de Luxembourg
GP de Wallonie
Giro della Toscana
Ethias Rapencross (CX)
BinckBank Tour (World Tour)
Fleche Wallonne (World Tour mens and womens- Also free to air on SBS)
European BMX championships
Giro d’Italia (World Tour)
Liege-Bastogne-Liege (World Tour mens and womens – Also free to air on SBS)
De Branbantse Pijl
Gent-Wevelgem (World Tour men’s and women’s)
Ethias b-mine (CX)
Tour of Flanders (World Tour mens and womens – Also free to air on SBS)
Vuelta a Espana (World Tour mens – Also free to air on SBS)
Driedaagse de Panne (mens and womens)
Paris-Roubaix (World Tour mens and womens – Also free to air on SBS)
Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta (Womens)
Ethias Leuven (CX)
Ethias Essen (CX)
Ethias Sylvestercross (CX)