UCI World Cup Prize Funds | How Much Money Do Downhill Mountain Bikers and BMX Racers Make on Tour?
There's been a big rise for riders following the meeting of the UCI Management Committee in Bergen...
Update: Following the meeting of the UCI's Management Committee in Bergen on 18 September 2017 an improvement in prize money was announced for mountain bikimg, with the World Championship prize pot rising from €6,000/£5,300 to €10,000/£8,900 and World Cup pot increasing from €3,950/£3,500 to €6,500/£5,700 per race.
Men’s road cycling is of course the biggest money spinner in the world of two-wheels. Let’s take a quick look at the numbers there first, just so you can get a ball-park figure before diving into downhill and BMX figures.
Big names like Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan have been known to make £3,000,000 a year salary – and that’s before prize funds.
The winner of the 2016 Tour de France (Chris Froome) made €500,000 euros, or around £417,000. Second place in the Tour de France meanwhile earns €200,000 and third takes home €100,000. After that you're looking at €70,000 for fourth dropping to €3,800 for 10th. The total prize money handed out at the 2016 Tour was €2,295,850.
It’s big money – but for comparison, Andy Murray netted £2 million for winning Wimbledon in 2016, and ex-Man Utd striker Carlos Tevez, currently the highest paid footballer in the world, is earning a ridiculous £615,000 per week playing for Shanghai Shenua in the Chinese Superleague.
The gender pay gap in road cycling is notoriously bad. Team GB star Lizzie Armitage has previously called for a minimum wage to be introduced in women's cycling, something Brian Cookson pledged during his election period. British cyclocross rider Helen Wyman spoke out in early 2015 about the disparity, highlighting the Tour of Flanders as an example; where leading women Elisa Longo Borghini bagged €1,213 and men's winner Alexander Kristoff won €20,000.
In 2016, the Tour de Yorkshire became the most lucrative single race in the world for women cyclists. The first place for the one-day race actually exceeds what's on offer at the Tour for the men over the three days. The prize money for the winning woman on the Tour de Yorkshire was €20,000/£15,628, apparently made possible due to a sponsorship by Asda and live TV coverage of the event.
The AVIVA Women’s Tour and RideLondon GP, also in Britain, are also some of the best supported races in women's cycling.
So, if those are the kinds of figures we’re looking at in road cycling, what are the stats like in downhill mountain biking and in the world of BMX racing?
There’s equal pay for a start across the board in these UCI events, which is great. Let’s look a little closer.
Here are the stats for the mountain bikers first. They take home more than the BMX racers for an individual World Cup event, though on average there is a lot less money up for grabs than in BMX, which rewards consistency throughout the season and performance in the World Championships.
How Much Money Do Downhill Mountain Bikers Make?
In mountain biking, the UCI introduced equal pay back in 2013 for both Cross-country Olympics (XCO) and downhill events. XCO and downhill have matching prize funds for World Cup events and the World Championships.
If you finish in the top spot at a downhill or XCO World Cup event in 2017 you'll be taking home €3,750. Second place earns you €2,100 and third takes home €1,250. It goes onwards to 10th place which earns €200.
The pay out is a total of €10,100 per elite category at a World Cup event; so €10,100 to be split between the top men and €10,100 to be split between the top women.
Juniors take home €200 for first place in a World Cup event, €130 for second, €100 for third and so on down to €20 in 10th place to spend on some sweets and a litre-bottle of Sprite.
If you win the overall world cup series at elite level, you'll bag an additional €5,161. Second place takes €3,548. Third gets €2,581, fourth €1,935 and fifth €1,290 before it drops below the thousand mark and places 6-10 all get an additional €968.
The total purse for men and women for the overall then is €19,355 each.
A win at the World Championships at elite level meanwhile will earn you a very specific €2,333. Second place takes home €1,333 and third €667. The total prize fund handed out to the elite ranks then is €4,333 respectively. Juniors take home €267 for first, €167 for second and €100 for third.
Have a look at the chart below for the full breakdown of money per places at the UCI World Cup and World Championship races.
Of course some riders get paid by teams and sponsors as well, the big names in particular. Aaron Gwin’s departure from Specialized in 2015 was well publicised as coming after a disagreement over what the star is worth. He now rides for YT.
“YT valued me and allowed me to build a team on my own terms," Gwin said at the time. “They were willing to pay me what I believed I should be paid."
It’s not cheap to travel the world riding the series though, and as you can see from the prize money, if you’re not sure you’re going to be making podiums (and the conditions at stop one in Lourdes shows you can never be sure) and you don’t have a sponsor or backing to pay for your travel, hotel, etc. it can be a risk to splash out on your own.
For winning a World Cup: €3,750 (total prize fund of €10,100)
For winning the World Cup overall series: €5,161 (total prize fund of €19,355)
For winning the World Championships: €2,333 (total prize fund of €4,333)
How Much Money Do BMX Racers Bikers Make?
The BMX racing Supercross series – equivalent to the downhill world cup series in mountain biking – also boasts equal pay for men and women, though it was a much more recent addition, only coming in 2016.
You’ll notice that there is, on average, more cash in the UCI BMX racing events than there is in downhill mountain biking. Interestingly though, the BMX Supercross series awards athletes less than downhill or XCO for an individual World Cup win, putting much more emphasis on rewarding overall performance and success at the World Championships.
For a win on the BMX Supercross tour, you’ll see the winner picking up €2,500. That's more than €1,000 less than a downhill victory. Second takes €1,500 followed by €1,000 in third for the BMXers.
In the overall series rankings, there’s a huge €10,000 up for grabs for the winner though, with €6,000 for second and €4,000 for third, going down to €1,900 for fourth place.
The full pot for a single World Cup event is €7,400 for the men and women each, and it’s €30,600 for the overall pot each. There’s also cash on offer for those who get knocked out in the semi-final stages of these events.
The BMX racing World Championships and time trial have offered equal pay for men and women since 2013.
At the World Championships in 2017, the male and female winners will take home €5,000 respectively, more than double that of the XCO or downhill world champ.
Second place grabs €3,000, 3rd takes €2,000, right down to eight place which takes €400. The total pot for the elite level men and women then is €13,500 for finals and an extra €925 for those who depart at semi-final stage for men and women respectively.
The juniors also get a take home. The junior winner banks €1,800, with €1,200 for second and €900 for third. The pot for the juniors is €5,850 for the men and women each, with an extra €650 spread between those who exit in the semis.
For winning a World Cup: €2,500 (total prize fund of €7,400)
For winning the World Cup overall series: €10,000 (total prize fund of €30,600)
For winning the World Championships: €5,000 (total prize fund of €13,500+)