The Tour de France is on stage 3 today and the world’s most famous cycling race is nicely primed as the peloton leaves Nice for a 198km ride to Sisteron and the foot of the French Alps. Homegrown favourite Julian Alaphilippe will don the iconic yellow jersey this Monday, after a thrilling sprint finish saw him pip Swiss rider Marc Hirschi and Britain’s Adam Yates to the finish line on the Promenade des Anglais yesterday. Don’t miss another second of the action – read on as we explain how to watch a free Tour de France live stream and catch all the cycling action online.
2020 Tour de France essentials
The Tour de France is a 21-stage event that takes place over 23 days, starting on Saturday, August 29 and finishing on Sunday, September 20. There are multiple ways to watch a FREE Tour de France live stream in places like the UK, France, Italy and more. Anyone outside of their country of residence can watch just like they normally would at home by using a VPN – and right now you can save up to 50% on ExpressVPN – our No. 1 pick.
The question is: who will be wearing the maillot jaune (yellow jersey) toward the end of September when this year’s Tour de France concludes in Paris on the world famous Champs-Elysee? As much as anyone, Alaphilippe knows how hard it is to keep hold of the garment for an entire Grand Tour – the 28-year-old French rider having led last year’s Tour de France for 14 days.
Originally scheduled to start on June 27, the 2020 Tour de France was pushed back due to the coronavirus and the race now runs from Saturday, August 29 to Sunday, September 20. It’s the biggest of cycling’s three Grand Tour events – the other two being the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España – taking riders all over the country and its varied terrain, including all five mountain ranges – the stunning scenery of the French Alps being the aesthetic highlight of the 29 categorised climbs and five summit finishes this year.
The dates of the Tour de France aren’t all that’s different this year, either, with 12 new stage cities and sites on the 2020 route – nearly a third of the 35 that feature in in total. Health and safety protocols are also predictably intensified, with all riders and team staff having to pass two coronavirus tests in order to enter the Tour de France bubble – and if two riders or staff from the same team show symptoms of the illness or test positive for it, the entire team will be sent packing.
Those who do compete may find this year’s Tour de France especially punishing, as the Covid-enforced shutdown means the UCI WorldTour has only been back for a couple of weeks and participating cyclists therefore have far less miles under their glutes than they would in a normal season. And with the riders hitting the Alps on just the second day of the race and a summit finish scheduled for Stage 4, the organisers seem in a less than charitable mood – all of which makes for great viewing!
Can South America’s first ever winner of the competition, Egan Bernal, repeat this year – or will current World No. 1 Primož Roglič claim the yellow jersey? And what of homegrown favourite Thibaut Pinot? Don’t miss a single calf-wrenching second of the action – read on for full details of how to watch a Tour de France live stream and catch all the French Grand Tour cycling drama online.
How to watch a FREE Tour de France live stream in 2020
Cycling is one of the more egalitarian sports around – you just need a bike, legs and some road – and this is reflected in the wide-range of ways you can watch the 2020 Tour de France free online. We’re not talking just highlights, either, but rather comprehensive coverage of one of the world’s great sporting events.
On UK TV, you can get a free Tour de France live stream courtesy of ITV and, more specifically, its ITV Hub streaming service – available either right through your web browser or as an app for mobiles, tablets, set-top boxes, select smart TVs, consoles and more. It can be used by anyone in the UK 100% free – registration takes seconds and you only need a working email address and full UK postcode (such as SW1A 1AA for Buckingham Palace) to get streaming. You should also be in possession of a valid TV license, as this now extends to digital content as well as traditional box viewing.
If you prefer your coverage local, then French TV has you covered, too – specifically France TV Sport. In this case, the only prerequisite is being in France – you don’t even have to register or anything! Likewise, Italian TV offers a completely free Tour de France live stream by way of national broadcaster RAI – anyone in Italy can watch without paying a penny, or even handing over an email address, as creating an account isn’t necessary.
There’s even a free way to watch the Tour de France online in Australia (details below) and Belgium thanks to the latter’s RTBF and its comprehensive online streaming service. In keeping with the country’s reputation as a hotbed of bureaucracy, you do have to create an account – but you can link an existing Facebook and Google profile in a matter of seconds.
If you’d normally watch one of these options but can’t because you’re abroad right now, don’t sweat it. As we’re about to explain, using one of the best VPNs is an easy way to take your favourite streaming services with you wherever you are – right now, ExpressVPN is the way to go.
How to watch a Tour de France live stream from outside your country
If you want to watch the 2020 Tour de France, free or otherwise, you’ll likely run into problems accessing your preferred cycling live stream if you’re away from home. This is because of geo-blocking restrictions, but we’re pleased to say we can offer assistance in the form of a software recommendation – a VPN or Virtual Private Network being the only bit of kit you need to free yourself from such galling digital borders.
If you follow our expert advice – all of which is based on extensive, hands on testing – you’ll find they’re actually quite cheap, remarkably simple to use, and capable of way more than you thought they were. Here’s where to get started.
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How to watch the Tour de France: free live stream in the UK
For added on-the-go viewing convenience, it has an excellent app that’s available on nearly anything that plugs in these days – just give it a search on your device of choice and you should be away.
ITV’s Tour de France TV coverage starts at 12.30pm BST on Saturday, August 29 (on ITV4), and the channel is promising to deliver more than 85 hours of live cycling over the 23-day event, which concludes on Sunday, September 20.
ITV4 will also be providing live coverage of La Course, the women’s race that precedes the Tour de France, from 9am on August 29.
If you’re from the UK but not at home right now, you can get your Tour de France fix by grabbing a VPN.
Tour de France live stream 2020: how to watch cycling online in the US
The Tour de France 2020 is being aired by NBC Sports Gold in the US, with coverage of stage one starting at 6am ET/3am PT on Saturday, August 29.
For the most extensive coverage NBC has to offer, you can subscribe to NBC Sports Gold, which is offering a Cycling Pass for $54.99, delivering live, on-demand and commercial-free coverage of the Tour, plus loads more cycling action between now and May 31 2021.
If you’re a US resident out of the country that still wants to tune in via their usual service, then don’t forget to explore the VPN route set out above.
How to watch Tour de France 2020: live stream cycling in Australia
The great news for Aussie cycling fans is that all the action from the Tour de France 2020 is set to be broadcast on SBS Viceland, with coverage starting at 9pm AEST on Saturday, August 29.
Don’t worry if you’re out of the country and want to catch that SBS broadcast – using a VPN will let you watch as if you were back at home on your laptop, mobile or other TV streaming device.
Tour de France live stream 2020: how to watch the race online in Canada
Canadians will be able to get in on the Tour de France action via FloBikes, which streams online so you can watch from anywhere.
A monthly subscription will cost you $30, while a yearly account will set you back $150 ($12.50 per month), which will give you access to coverage of major cycling events throughout the year.
Not in Canada to catch that FloBikes stream? Well you know the answer by now… using a VPN is the way to make sure you don’t miss a moment.
Tour de France live stream: how to watch the race online in New Zealand
The official broadcaster for the Tour de France in New Zealand is Sky Sport, which costs $31.99 per month and includes channels dedicated to football, rugby, cricket and golf.
Coverage starts on Sky Sport 3 at 11.50pm NZST on Saturday, August 29.
For mobile streaming, users can tune in via the SKY Go app, and if you’re away from home right now you can use a VPN to catch your usual TV coverage.
Should you consider a GCN Race Pass?
You may have heard of something called the GCN Race Pass, which is available on a subscription basis in a range of territories including the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
However, of the countries listed above only the UK version of the pass includes coverage of the 2020 Tour de France… and since the race is being shown for free on ITV4, it’s worth keeping your wallet in your pocket this time.
Whatever service you decide to turn to for your Tour de France coverage, don’t forget that grabbing a VPN will let you tune into it wherever you roam.
Tour de France 2020 news: what’s happened so far?
An action and crash-packed Grand Depart on Saturday, August 29 saw Norwegian Alexander Kristoff win the first stage of this year’s Tour de France. The veteran was involved in a chaotic stage 1 crash but recovered – unlike Lotto Soudal’s Philippe Gilbert, who broke his knee and has been forced to pull out of his chance at cycling’s ultimate prize.
Tour de France route: how long is the 2020 Tour de France and where does it start?
The opening stage, known as the ‘Grand Départ’, of the 2020 Tour de France takes place in Nice on August 29, while the the 21st and final stage sets off in Mantes-la-Jolie and finishes in traditional style with a sprint down the Champs-Élysées in Paris on September 20.
The 2020 Tour de France covers approximately 3,470 km (2,156 miles). There are nine flat stages, three hilly stages, eight mountain stages (all of which have summit finishes), one individual time trial, and two rest days. There will be no team time trial this year.
At 218 km (135 miles), Stage 12 on September 10 is the longest stage, and it won’t be a flat route either. Stage 20 on the penultimate day of the race will be the shortest, at 36 km (22 miles), but being a mountain time trial, it’ll be brutal.
How does the Tour de France work?
The Tour de France is the oldest – and, depending on who you ask, the most difficult and prestigious – of cycling’s three Grand Tours, the other two being the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España.
This year’s race is the 107th edition of the Tour, which is affectionately known as La Grande Boucle (the big loop), and unlike last year’s event, the 2020 Tour de France will not stray across any of the borders of La République.
The Tour de France line-up comprises 22 teams with eight members each, plus between two and four substitutes. It’s broken down into 21 stages, each of which is completed every day – and there are two days set aside for the riders to rest. Stage 1 takes place on August 29 and Stage 21 is scheduled for September 20, with the breaks in the action set for September 7 and September 14 (both Mondays).
At the end of each daily stage, the rider who crosses the finish line first is the ‘Stage Winner’, while the cyclist with the quickest overall time from the very start of the first day of the race gets to wear the prestigious Yellow Jersey.
However, one of the stages is an individual time trial, during which each of the riders will race to set the fastest time, without their teammates helping out by creating slipstreams. There’s only one time trial this year, and it’s scheduled for the penultimate day of the event.
The overall winner of the Tour de France is the rider with the quickest time for all the stages put together, and whoever’s in the lead at the end of each stage gets to wear the legendary yellow jersey the following day.
There are several secondary competitions and prizes at stake too, including the points classification (leader indicated by a green jersey), mountains classification (polka dot jersey), young rider classification (white jersey), team classification (numbers on a yellow background rather than white), and combativity award (red bib).
Who are the favourites for Tour de France 2020?
The Tour de France 2020 favourites… aren’t Chris Froome or Geraint Thomas, both of whom were abruptly dropped by Team Ineos just over a week before the start of the race, to the shock of pretty much everyone with any knowledge of cycling.
Incredibly, Team Ineos’ 23-year-old Egan Bernal will be the only previous Tour de France winner in this year’s peloton. His teammates Geraint Thomas (who finished second last year) and Chris Froome have won the general classification five times between them but were dropped from Ineos last week, and Team Jumbo–Visma’s Steven Kruijswijk, who finished third last year, is out of action with a fractured shoulder.
That means this years race is still expected to be a battle between Team Ineos and Team Jumbo–Visma, led by world number one road cyclist Primož Roglič and Tom Dumoulin. Groupama–FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot will be determined to have a say, though, and the Frenchman would be the first homegrown Tour de France winner since Bernard Hinault in 1985