Tour de France: How to Watch Via Live Stream and TV for U.S. Viewers

Team Sky's British rider Chris Froome in Calella, Spain, March 20.
Team Sky's British rider Chris Froome in Calella, Spain, March 20. Froome will be the favorite to win the Tour de France, which begins on Saturday. Josep Lago/AFP/Getty

In the eight years since Lance Armstrong last raced the Tour de France, something extraordinary occurred.

As the charismatic, disgraced Texan's shadow receded, the French did not reclaim their event. Instead, there was a British invasion. The Brits took their success riding fixed-gear bikes really fast around a track, and transferred it to French mountain roads.

In the process, Team Sky produced two Tour winners. Sir Bradley Wiggins, the multiple Olympic gold medallist on the track, took the 2012 edition.

But Wiggins had a rival from within his own camp. Chris Froome, the Kenyan-born climber who announced himself with a startling performance at the 2011 Vuelta a Espana, might have won that 2012 Tour had he not been forced, via cycling's ineffably strange code, to help his team leader.

Froome waited a year, then won the 2013 edition, accelerating away from Spain's Alberto Contador on Mont Ventoux in what seemed like a symbolic changing of the guard. Froome crashed out in 2014, but he won in 2015 and 2016.

Champions, though, are not immortal. Team Sky has been damaged in the past year over the ongoing investigation into a package meant for Wiggins and delivered to its team bus after the end of the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine, which the team says contained Fluimucil, a decongestant.

And Froome, 32, has multiple credible rivals as he attempts to win a fourth Tour. Richie Porte, formerly Froome's most loyal helper at Team Sky, is in the form of his career at BMC, the Swiss-American outfit. Nairo Quintana is attempting the great "double" of Giro d'Italia, which he lost to Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, and Tour de France, something no one has achieved since the late Marco Pantani in 1998. Esteban Chaves, Quintana's fellow Colombian, lurks as a dangerous outsider although he may suffer in the time trials. Contador, now with American team Trek-Segafredo, is desperately clinging to past glories at 34 years old. It was he who dominated the years in between Armstrong and Wiggins, though his 2010 victory was stripped as part of a doping ban. In the recent Criterium du Dauphine, a key warm-up race for the Tour, Froome looked fallible enough to give his rivals hope.

This year's route begins in Dusseldorf, western Germany, with a time trial on Saturday before winding toward the Alps. The race will transfer to the Pyrenees before crossing back to the Alps across the Massif Central, climaxing with another time trial on Stage 20 before the ceremonial roll into Paris.

There isn't a realistic American contender this year for the yellow jersey. Tejay Van Garderen rode the Giro d'Italia, and Porte has been BMC's stronger man in 2017. But there are several ways for U.S. viewers to watch. For those with cable, NBC and NBC Sports Network will be broadcasting every stage from 7.30 a.m. E.S.T. Those without cable can sign up to NBC Sport's Gold streaming service. A subscription running from July 1 to 27 will cost you $39.99.