The Tour de France may be one of the toughest endurance events an athlete can take part in, but when it comes to collecting their prize money after three weeks in the saddle riders are reminded of just how tough the sport really is.
While some footballers regularly earn enough in a month to fund entire cycling teams for a season – those at UCI Continental level, at least – riders at the highest level in cycling remain relatively poorly rewarded.
To say being a professional cyclist is tough, cruel even, is an understatement of such magnitude it is difficult to comprehend when you consider what their footballing cousins trouser each week, golfers take home from majors or tennis players win at grand slams.
When Novak Djokovic won the men’s singles at Wimbledon last year, the Serbian pocketed £2.25 million for just 17hrs 53mins of court time, or around £125,000 an hour. By contrast, the winner at this year’s Tour will earn €500,000 in prize money, or around £447,755, for cycling 3,480 kilometres (2,162 miles) over a gruelling three-week period.
When you consider that tradition dictates the winner hands over his winnings to team-mates in recognition of their hard work, you start to understand what winning the fabled yellow jersey really means.
The total pot of prize money handed out at this year’s Tour is worth €2,291,700 and while the eventual winner takes the lion’s share, there are plenty of other ways of earning a few extra euros.
Winners of the green and polka dot jerseys – in the points and mountains classifications respectively – will each win €25,000 while the white jersey of the young classification takes home €20,000.
In addition to what is handed out in Paris, the leader in general classification throughout the race also earns €500 for each day spent in the yellow jersey, while the custodians of the other jerseys get €300.
During each stage, too, there is money on offer at the intermediate sprints (€1,500, €1,000 and €500), while the top 14 finishers in each road stage or individual time trial wins €11,000, €5,500, €2,800, €1,500, €830, €780, €730, €670, €650, €600, €540, €470, €440 and €340 respectively while those that finish 15th-20th get €300.
The first rider over each categorised climb can boost their earnings too – €800 for hors catégorie, €650 for category one, €500 for category two, €300 for category three and €200 for category four. However, the biggest bonuses in the mountains are the Souvenirs Jacques Goddet and Henri Desgrange– the prizes handed to the first rider over the summits of the col du Tourmalet (stage 14) and col de l’Iseran (stage 19) – which are worth €5,000 each.
Whoever wins the daily combativity award during each road stage gets €2,000 each day while the overall ‘super combativity’ prize winner trousers himself €20,000.