We asked readers of Cycling Weekly how they would make television coverage of cycle racing better. And here's what they said

Coverage of professional cycle racing on television appears to be a contentious issue. Some of you think that the current broadcasters do a great job of bringing our sport to the small screen… and others are very vocal in their dismay at how cycling is shown, or not.

We asked readers of Cycling Weekly to come up with their own suggestions of how they would improve the coverage of cycling on television.

Here we present a selection of answers. Do you agree with them? Do you have your own suggestion? Let us know in the comment box below.

Have a one-hour weekly highlights programme including all the current races. It’s difficult to follow all the races that are on, and sometimes I pre-record them, sit down later at night when I’ve got the TV to myself only to find that Eurosport decided to show the Azerbaijan open snooker championship instead. Frustrating.
Andy Rigate

Use quadcopters (drones) instead of or as well as helicopters, they can get closer to the riders. Also, get rid of the helicopter noise as it’s annoying. Split screen action during long steady sections, maybe with re-runs or interviews alongside the live action.
Iain Brownbridge

Publicise it better. Trying to find which channel is covering which race can be a pain. It doesn’t help if programmes are bumped at the last minute, as per coverage of the final stage of the Dubai Tour.
Jeff Parry

For the Tour Down Under last month they had Robbie McEwen giving updates from the back of a motorbike on the road. It added an extra insight and dimension to the viewing experience, especially as Robbie is such an articulate speaker.
David Jones

Remember the big fuss about new digital tech for Formula 1? How long ago was that? We should have the option on Eurosport/BBC to pick between cameras and ride with our favourite. And have on-screen speed, with wind information, upcoming intermediate sprints, feedzones etc.
Mark Middleton

TV camera on Chris Froome

Bike race television coverage: more is good

Standard graphics set by the UCI. More live on-bike cameras. Eurosport to stop bumping highlights. Better highlights rather than the last hour, similar to ITV4’s Tour de France coverage. More women’s races and more British races.
David Palmer

I’d like to see more on-board bike cameras. More detailed look at the pro’s bikes with a mechanic talking about the bike. Riders’ tips for sections of races. Much better camera shots from the motorbike.
Nik Kearley

Put it all on one dedicated channel. Sky pay a fortune to sponsor a team but its coverage is very infrequent. Get Phil Liggett and Chris Boardman all working for them and get UCI to sort the graphics out.
Tom Mason

I think it is pretty good as it is. Eurosport does a good job of bringing us most races, and the Carlton Kirby/Sean Kelly team is hard to beat. On a technical level, improve the signal from the motorbike cameras – it does break up a lot!
Simon Hedge

More sweeping helicopter shots of 12th century French monasteries.
Paul Banks

GoPros certainly do add something, maybe as an option (press the red button to follow the ride leader for example).
Thurstan Johnson

More concise highlights to attract amateurs and new viewers who don’t understand the sport as much – it can be confusing at times.
Will Newman

In the USA, any coverage would be a bonus. NBCSports tries, but football, baseball, basketball, hockey, wrestling, college frat party keg stands or new feminine hygiene product commercials often supersede cycling coverage. I like the suggestion of a Cycling Network.
Pete Jones

  • Hub

    Brian, David Saunders was my father. He died when his car overturned driving along Millbank in London. Thank you for remembering him.

  • poisonjunction

    No RTSB, but it does suggest you are still using an old 12″ monitor? Have you thought of linking a ‘cheap’ 32″ flat screen TV to your PC! Or even your family one – just a few cables, and great choices on the internet, I watched Dowsetts Hour live on RAI [Italian TV] you couldn’t watch it on an English channel, and you’ll enjoy viewing much more, ‘feel’ the heat, wind, rain, and snow, sweat to the mountain prime, descend at 60mph, then sprint for the line!!!!

    EG Not racing, but see ‘YouTube – Road Bike Party 1, 2, 3.’ for real bike handling

  • poisonjunction

    Motorcycle’s are a MENACE, and encourage SLIPSTREAMING.

    STOP camera motorcycles shooting from in FRONT of the riders!
    From the side or behind YES, but it ruins racing by encouraging unsporting riding behaviour which endlessly goes unpunished.

    Slipstreaming from motorcycles happens ‘everywhere’ including uphill’

    Time and again obvious ‘pace-taking’ gets severe editing, meaning those ‘in the know’, are concious of the disservice they do to the sport.

    Whatever rules are in place to dissuade motorcycles from the opportunity of ‘giving pace [IF ANY] are clearly not enforced in any of the Grand Tours.

    Having ‘stamped out’ drug abuse . . . . this is the next abuse to take action on.

    I’d be quite happy not to have motorcycles buzzing about the pelotons, the riders don’t like it and are frequently to be seen waving the camera’s away. The suggestion of flying drone aircraft is a possible solution.

    On steep descents riders progress is often impeded as they descend faster than the motor bikes, when climbing certain riders are in the ‘habit’ of waiting for an opportune moment to sprint across to a slow moving camera motorcycle knowing it’s incapable of accelerating sharply at such low speeds.
    By the time ‘contact’ is made the motorcycle has picked up speed and drags the rider futher away in its vacuum!
    On other occasions climbing steep single track lanes, riders have been forced to dismount when the road has been blocked by stalled motorcycles!

    When you see a pefect rider close up on your screen, it’s rarely due to a long lens, its because the rider is almost sitting on the cameramans lap!!

  • Ian Simpson

    All in all I’m delighted with the overall coverage of cycling – we can see so many more races than even 2-3yrs ago. Certainly hugely more than 20 yrs ago! I do have one key suggestion, to Eurosport, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE get rid of Carlton Kirby. I’m sure that live commentary is extremely difficult but others seem to do it so much better on a consistent basis. His commentary is cliche-ridden (“in this part of the world”, “a world of pain”, “the chargers”, “things will be getting busy”) as well as often plain wrong. That’s even without discussing his extremely puerile “humour” which he then laughs at himself. I feel so sorry for the likes of Maggie Backstedt – they must be ready to throttle him after a co-commentary session. As each season starts I just hope that he’s retired but no – like a boomerang he keeps coming back. I have nothing against him personally BUT – enough already!

  • Colin

    Do you mean to say that more people would watch River Monsters or Storage Wars than P – R ??????

  • Rupert the Super Bear

    Hardly any online links are as good as watching on TV.

    By the time you’ve clicked away the pop-ups, put up with clunky stop start streams, blurred faces and graphics… oh, and the Flemish Bill and Ben commentary…. nope sorry, it’s definitely second choice.

    Not sure that makes me naive!

  • nortonpdj

    Don’t be naive. I’m not going to put links here, but a quick look on your favourite search engine will find Eurosport, Sky, Sporza, beIn etc

  • Edward M.

    This could be interesting. So much data to work with! Great idea!

  • Edward M.

    In professional motocross the defending champion gets the option to wear number one or his designated number. And not everyone gets a permanent number, only the top riders. I think this is completely doable and would definitely help.

  • jackietweed

    More PODIUMS & post race interviews. I don’t mean to be cranky, but I just sat through 3 hours of men in tight Spandex/Lycra & I would LOVE to see them get their winners jerseys & here them talk about what great team members they have supporting them. PLUS, the commentators should give us some info on what we are seeing when the camera’s pan the countryside & vistas. Say what you will about Phil & Paul, but when they commentate you also get a visual tour. I get so tired of jumping back & forth between cycling & Wikipedia.

  • Brian Turpin

    Get Eurosport to stick to the broadcast schedule. This would avoid me watching 2 hours recorded racing for it to run out with 5k to go. Irritating. There’s no problem with the wall to wall coverage of cycling these days compared to the austere 70’s when we were lucky to get 20 minutes of World of Sport on ITV on a Saturday afternoon. But we did have the unforgettable David Saunders with his spine tingling commentaries cruelly taken from us when he tragically died in a car crash in Belgium. Quality not quantity I guess is what I’m saying, but that costs money.

  • Colin

    It would great if more cycle races were televised on channels other than Eurosport ITV4 does a great job but other than the tour they are few and far between.

  • Steve

    Could each bike contain a GPS tracking device? Surely from that position on the rode, speed etc can be relayed for each rider in real time. This surely doesn’t have to be an expensive option?

  • Steve

    If each squad assigned squad numbers at the start of a season like a football team, so that Peter Sagan is number 1 all season for example would help identify riders

  • keep on golfing

    As someone who work in sports broadcasting and who’s worked on cycling
    in the past, I know these are all things broadcasters would like to do.
    However it all boils down to one thing… cost. All of the above ideas
    (except split-screen) cost a lot of money to implement.
    The reason
    Eurosport spend large chunks of cash on cycling right’s each year, is
    they can sit on the host broadcasters (world feed) coverage all day with
    minimal effort and cost to them. As for highlights, simply taking the
    last hour of a race as highlights unlike ITV saves the cost of an Ast
    Producer and an Editor allowing Eurosport highlights to go out earlier
    in the evenings.
    Plus there are several technical issues covering a
    bike race has that no other sports in the world have: it’s over
    hundreds of kilometers everyday. You’re linking an RF camera on the back
    of a motorbike traveling 40km + an hour to a helicopter hundreds of feet up traveling at speed to a broadcast truck possibly hundreds of kilometer’s away. It’s not compatible to F1 as that’s in a controllable environment.

  • Mark Jones

    Sounds more confusing to me and the numbers would be into the thousands with all the continental teams. It is a privilege for a rider to wear the number one having won the previous year’s race. I would go more down the line of names on jerseys, although I think the UCI said no to this. It is confusing with riders wearing helmets and even more so with so many teams choosing to wear dull black kits.

  • David Bassett

    From
    the actual article Point No:2 – Iain Brownbridge how do you expect to operate these Drones. We get loads
    of dribble from the likes of Carlton Kirby re the Moto’s getting in the way.
    The riders of those bikes are quite often (if not always) ex racing cyclists. Mistakes happen in all
    walks of life and often there will be riders in the bunch you would not want to
    ride behind going down a hill or around tight corners, so do we have to have
    someone perched on the back Moto using a drone. I can imagine a rider swerving
    to miss a pot hole and getting one of the in his mouth. Like Amazon saying they
    are going to deliver parcels via drones, it will never happen, the riders safety
    is too important. Going back to the Moto camera we could just get rid of them
    and only use helicopters, they don’t get in the way. But hang on Professional
    bike riders are mobile bill boards. Take away the incredible pictures we get of
    this marvelous sport you will loos the sponsors. Not just the ones that pay the
    riders managers mechanics measures ect. But the guys that put their hands in
    their pockets to put on all the grass routs events. Good buy cycling. I do hope
    not.

  • David Bassett

    NiceChappie (I am sure you are)
    How can you assign a number to a rider for the whole year. No: goes to the rider that won the race the year before No: 11, 21, 31 etcetera are assigned to the team
    leaders, and depending on the classification of the race there will be different amount of riders.

  • Pbody

    Very good idea, NC!

  • Pbody

    Have a channel dedicated to bicycling that provides race coverage, race updates, bicycling news, products, etc. Here in Thailand, we get very little coverage on bicycle racing and there are thousands of people here that are great fans of Professional bike racing.

  • NiceChappie

    Assign the riders fixed numbers at the beginning of the season – this would facilitate the task of trying to identify them during a race.

  • Rupert the Super Bear

    I wish there was some way of watching Eurosport for free.

  • Derek Biggerstaff

    It would be nice if Eurosport could spend some money editing a proper highlights show each evening.

  • Steve Bell

    TV coverage is fine. At least what you see on tv that is. Graphics could be improved.. speeds, on-bike video, power numbers, etc. I would suggest having the start and finish lines in more of a arena venue.. that way spectators could congregate for the start in a stadium or race track complete with diamond vision big screens and beer to watch and cheer etc .. then to finish the peloton could do a final circuit of 5-10 laps.. This way you could setup franchises and compete between countries or cities.. like Grand Prix or every other sport in the world. Sell merchandise and swag.. of course it’ll never happen but it’s just my out-of-the-box answer.

  • David Bassett

    Get rid of Carlton Kirby and bring back David Harmon.

  • Robert

    We need better on screen graphics summarising the gaps/distances. Use GPS to identify which riders are where. Milan San Remo last week was a joke – it all blows up on the poggio and no one had a clue who was in the lead group going over the top. We only knew Degenkolb was in the group when he opened up his sprint!

    Agree with the analysis – breaking from the monotony to have interviews, features, info about the next climb etc. a bit like the chap on the masters golf who tells you about the lie of the greens.

    Chris Boardman does a good job on itv4 TdF highlights. We need more of that content inc look back to previous years races, what happened when etc.

    I think the motorbikes and helis do a good job. Drones could add to it once they are reliable/available.

  • Oboeplum

    I often see france 2 using split screens at dull moments, and it would be good to see other channels using it too. Sweeping shots of scenery are good, but it would be nice to know for sure there’s nothing interesting happening at the same time