A total of 23 free to air broadcasters are showing the World Championships ©Getty Images

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) have stated that they have agreed deals with public service broadcasters in 23 countries to show the International Cycling Union (UCI) World Road Championships in Bergen.

It is claimed the agreements will ensure a record number of viewers will be able to watch the Championships, which began today and will conclude on September 24.

The EBU state they made a commitment to keeping major sporting events free-to-air wherever possible, as part of their partnership with the UCI.

It includes public service broadcasters in several major markets, including the BBC in the United Kingdom, RAI in Italy and France TV.

German broadcaster ZDF have also agreed to show coverage for the first time in a number of years.

“Thanks to our unique relationship with Europe’s public service broadcasters and our creative approach to combining free-to-air and paid exploitation of rights throughout Europe, we have been able to ensure the most extensive and in-depth coverage ever for this year’s Championships,” said Julien Ternisien, EBU head of sports rights for summer sports.

The distribution reportedly represents nearly a 40 per cent increase, year-on-year, in territories covered by the agreements.

The EBU have stated that in countries such as Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Poland, public service broadcasters will replace former pay TV rights holders.

It is believed this will enable a wider access to fans wanting to watch the Championships.

Eurosport will be broadcasting the Championships in the other European territories.

They will offer enhanced coverage in most of the free-to-air markets, according to the EBU.

The EBU believe the agreements will help the Championships be watched by a record number of viewers ©Getty Images
The EBU believe the agreements will help the Championships be watched by a record number of viewers ©Getty Images

The EBU was awarded the European media rights to the UCI World Championships back in April 2016, with IMG handling rights outside of Europe under an EBU sub-licence.

The Championships began today with the team time trial events.

Individual time trial events will be held over the next three days, before a one-day break in the Championships on September 21.

Road race action will be held on the final three days, with the elite women’s race taking place on September 23.

The men’s race will bring the Championships to a close the following day.

The UCI Presidential election will be held on the Championships rest day, with incumbent Brian Cookson facing the challenge of France’s David Lappartient.

Find the full Big Read on the election here.