British Eurosport and OLN in the US have both announced record viewing figures for this year's Tour.PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE The growing popularity of the Tour de France in the UK has been reflected in record viewing figures for British Eurosport in 2004. Audience numbers for British Eurosport's live coverage, which included 87 hours of action from the roads of France, rose by over a third against 2003 figures. Lance Armstrong's historic sixth victory in the world's toughest race captivated British audiences drew a total of 3.2million viewers to British Eurosport throughout the 21-day event. The Tour, which enjoyed its most mainstream media coverage ever in the UK saw the total number of viewers rising by 19 per cent on last year. Richard Copeman, sports editor of British Eurosport said: "Audiences this year were gripped as Armstrong fought his way to the historic sixth Tour de France victory. Our excellent coverage captured all the drama as well as being informing and entertaining. British Eurosport is supports cycling throughout the year and this experience manifests itself perfectly through our annual coverage of Le Tour." Eurosport.com also enjoyed its most successful day ever on Thursday July 22 thanks to the Tour de France with 6.7m pages viewed. British Eurosport will be broadcasting live coverage of the cycling disciplines at the Athens Olympics in August and the Vuelta Tour of Spain live in from September 6. Audiences also reached record levels in the US, where the race was shown live on the Outdoor Life Network. In an article on msnbc.com, an OLN spokesman said the final stage of the provided the nine-year-old network with its highest ratings ever. Three times during the race, OLN broke viewership records, according to Nielsen Media Research, who said OLN was watched by 1.37 million viewers during the race's final stage. However, the news was not all good for cycling fans, as OLN have pulled their daily coverage of the Vuelta. Instead coverage of the race now comprises a one-hour highlights package to be shown on October 27, a month after the race ends. Despite describing themselves as the "home of professional cycling on television", it seems OLN's commitment does not extend too far beyond the Tour de France.