USA Cycling's Pro Road Tour calendar continues with this weekend's Sunny King Criterium in Anniston, Alabama. The race is one of the pioneers of live streaming video coverage in domestic racing, and will return with a full complement of camera angles and commentary you can view live on Cyclingnews on Saturday, April 8. Pro women start at 6:20PM CET and the men at 7:30PM.
The race first started live streaming in 2010 with the help of a director/producer from WEAC TV24 in east Alabama, and has expanded in its scope to a total staff of 26 with seven manned cameras, three fixed feeds, two motorcycle cameras and one drone.
Matt Wilson, who worked on the race's coverage before moving to ESPN, described the challenges of creating a rich live streaming experience for the fans.
"In the business of remote television production, racing and golf are two of the most technically challenging sports to cover because the action happens over such a large physical area, sometimes miles," Wilson said. "This type of broadcast generally requires miles of cable, big crews, and big budgets. Over the years, we added cameras, a play-by-play announcer and high-definition."
Brad Sohner, who co-commentates with Frankie Andreu for the races, explained that the equipment is only part of the production. "The logistics include running six miles of cable for a blazing fast internet connection, acquiring enhanced power supplies, operating 11 camera feeds, and so much more. Each camera is wired with power, video, audio, intercom, and tally so every person on staff can communicate, so the 'to do' list is very long," Sohner said. "The production really starts weeks in advance, gathering interviews, editing features, creating graphics, scripting, and confirming the crew. Then it all comes together in a very small window before the event."
The drone camera is a new addition, requiring a special permit.
"We work with Jacksonville State University for some of their students and staff to work on set up and race operations. They always provide us with incredibly talented students, trained on the latest technology and ready to get the difficult job done," said Sohner.
Saturday's criterium is part of the Pro Road Tour, which is led by Robin Carpenter (Holowesko-Citadel) and Ruth Winder (UnitedHealthcare), the winners of the Joe Martin Stage Race, the first race in the season-long series.
Watch the live stream below on Saturday, April 8, 2017 starting at 9:30CET for amateurs, and 6:20PM CET for the professional races.