How much do riders and teams make at the Tour de France?
The Tour de France is the glittering jewel in the cycling crown, the sport’s most polished and prestigious production. Each year it is broadcast around the world to an audience of countless millions. It is cycling’s World Cup, Eurovision Song Contest, and Grand Final rolled into one.
But does that vast global audience equate to vast prize money?
It depends how you look at it.
The 2021 Tour de France has a total prize pool of €2,228,450 (US$2,642,340 / AU$3,516,770) – around €60,000 less than it has been in the last two editions.
For mere mortals like you and me, that is a considerable sum. But compared to other major sports, it’s pretty modest prize money. Take as an example the Wimbledon tennis tournament, with a prize pool of £35,000,000 (€40,799,650), from which the men’s and women’s singles winners will each pocket a novelty-sized cheque for £1,700,000 (€1,981,697).
As for the Tour? For three weeks of exertion, the general classification winner will take home €500,000, a snazzy bowl-shaped trophy, and a soft toy in the shape of a lion.
The prize money drops off sharply from there, divided between the rest of the riders in the race. The second-place finisher gets €200,000, but by the time you get down to 19th on the general classification, the winnings are just €1,100 – enough for a pair of titanium eeWings cranks and a round of Domino’s pizza (but only from the extra-value range – nothing fancy) for the whole team. Riders from 20th to 160th are rewarded with €1,000 each; €47 for each day of the race.
But it’s not just that final big (or small) payday in Paris that the riders are jostling for.
The total prize pool is sliced and diced across the entire race, in intermediate sprints and stage wins, mountain summits and combativity prizes. Euros are an abstract thing, but tangible real life items are not, so CyclingTips has helpfully decided to provide real-life comparisons of what riders could buy with their prize money for each of these.
A stage win at the Tour de France is good for €11,000 – not quite enough for an S-Works Aethos. Tenth on a stage will net a rider a more modest €600 – enough for a pair of titanium CeramicSpeed jockey wheels – while 15th to 20th place is, in financial terms, no different: €300, or not quite enough for the shoes on the riders’ feet.
The points on a sprint stage, meanwhile, contribute toward the green jersey, the wearer of which pockets €300 per day, with the eventual winner of that classification taking home €25,000. Likewise, if a rider places at an intermediate sprint, there’s a financial incentive in addition to the points. The winner scores €1,500, and the third-place finisher earns more than just the fleeting admiration of their peers: they pick up €500, which is enough for a very well-soiled 2002 Renault Twingo (with €10 spare for service station snacks on the way back from collecting it in Marseilles).
Like the green jersey winner, the final holder of the King of the Mountains Classification is also rewarded with €25,000, with monetary prizes for every single categorised climb in the race. These vary from €5,000 for the Souvenir Henri Desgrange – the highest point of the race, at the Port d’Envalira on stage 15 – all the way down to €200 for a fourth category climb. If a rider strings together a couple of those, they might be able to put it toward a discreet altitude tent for the head (a steal at €360).
All of this prize money is tallied up over three weeks, pooling in the team’s piggy bank. As cycling is a team sport, it’s customary for the total to be split among riders and staff, meaning Tadej Pogačar (to choose one entirely hypothetical winner of this year’s race off the top of my head) won’t take the full half-mil home to Slovenia.
As of the first rest day, it’s team classification leader Bahrain Victorious that is heading the running prize money tally, courtesy of a couple of stage wins and some busy bees in various breakaways. Way down the other end of the spectrum is poor Qhubeka-NextHash, which has brought on a cryptocurrency sponsor for the event but pocketed little real-world cash. At present, they’re sitting on enough for a team-bonding RyanAir trip to Zagreb for the Tour squad and 10 staff.
|Team||Prize money (€)|
|5||UAE Team Emirates||27,000|
|6||AG2R Citroën Team||21,780|
|15||Israel Start-Up Nation||5,030|
|16||B&B Hotels p/b KTM||5,010|
As for the riders contributing to those team pools? Perhaps predictably, it’s Pogačar – with a stage win, a brief but growing stint in yellow, and an extended stint in white – leading that tally, doing most of the heavy lifting for UAE Team Emirates’s kitty.
|Rider||Prize money (€)|
|3||Mathieu van der Poel||18,730|
Of course, the riders and team staff are paid a wage – so these figures are more like a performance bonus rather than a direct reflection of what their exertions are worth.
By Tour’s end – especially if you are hypothetical future-Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar – these prize money tallies will have kept on rising. When the curtain comes down on the Champs-Élysées, the teams and the riders will disperse to their distant corners of the world, deep tanlines etched into their skin, covered in healing, peeling roadrash.
Some will have made their name and their fortune. Others will have made enough for a mildly sordid night out at a Parisian nightclub, some overpriced Heinekens, and a late-night kebab on the stumble back to the Ibis.