Female rider minimum wage

October 3, 2011

Pat McQuaid was asked about a minimum wage for women riders, and said he didn’t think the sport had the level yet. Vos, Teutenberg, Bronzini and others took offense and were said to support the idea for a minimum wage. So this seems to be as good a time as any to delve into this issue.

As you may know, the Garmin-Cervelo women’s team has a minimum wage (and I believe it’s the only team to have one). The decision to do this was easy, the implementation not so easy. What should it be? With a  Dutch rider living in Spain riding for an American team registered in the UK, there’s no shortage of rates you can pick. And do you make it a true full-time wage that you can expect people to live off? Or is that simply not possible with the economics of women cycling? The countries that were most relevant to our team were as follows (using wikipedia and recalculating from International dollars to Euros):

  • UK: 14,600 Euro
  • Netherlands: 16,800 Euro
  • Spain: 9,000 Euro
  • USA: 13,000 Euro

As you can see, that’s quite a spread. To keep it easy, we went with 18,000 Euro (1500/mo) as the standard minimum wage on the team. We then made an exception for the minimum wage for neo-pros, which we put at 12,000 Euro (1000/mo). We felt this was necessary as a principle, to ensure fast flow through of young riders to the highest level. In men’s cycling, neo-pros also have a lower minimum salaries. And we figured that over time, we could raise the minimum wage level, while it would be hard to go the other way round.

It’s by no means a get-rich-quick scheme, but it’s a start and better than having riders race a whole season for free, as it still the case for about a quarter of the women’s peloton (this is a pretty rough estimate of questionable origin, but it sounds about right. If I were a journalist, I wouldn’t have mentioned it).

Tomorrow we’ll see how it all compares to the men, so if you don’t want to miss that, subscribe here.

NOTE Oct 5, 2011 – I corrected the UK minimum wage, I had typed 19,600 Euro, this should have been 14,600 Euro. Thanks to Andrew P for pointing out the error

40 Responses to “Female rider minimum wage”


  1. Great of you to share that information with us Gerard! Hopefully this will progress the drive to implement a minimum wage level in women cycling.

  2. Arnoud Says:

    Don’t you have to meet certain minimum wage limits in certain countries, such as in the Netherlands taking into consideration international law of applicable employment law? Or is this not realy professional Cycling?


    • If you call it a full time job you should. But you can also say it’s only a part time job so the minimum wage is only a part of the minimum wage of a full time job. You can do this because there’s no number of hours mentioned in the contract of a cyclist.


    • The laws around this are pretty complex (also on the men’s side), because the location in which the work is performed also changes as you race in many different countries. To be honest, it’s quite a mess, for example German riders need to keep track how many days they race in Germany as they have to charge VAT for that (presuming they are self-employed), there are some strange rules in Denmark, and the list goes on.

  3. Sarah Says:

    It’s good to see numbers – would you be able to tell us what the salary range for women is – and if the same deal the Cervélo gave is being honoured by Garmin-Cervélo? And do you know what salary ranges other big women’s teams have? I’m really interested!

    My take on this issue is that there are all kinds of problems stemming from classing women as Conti level only – the age restrictions etc that make sense for Conti men are a problem for the women. I’ve said for ages that having women’s pro teams able to register on the Pro-Conti level (at least) is the way forward, and would sort out a lot of the issues re pay, age, that kind of thing.

    (I am a little disappointed that neo-pro women get paid such a small amount, but that feels churlish, given so many teams want riders to ride for free)

    The thing about Pat McQuaid saying women shouldn’t get paid a minimum because the sport isn’t “at that level” infuriates me – watching the Giro Donne on tv shows that to be nonsense, and if the sport isn’t at that level, what the hell is the governing body doing about it? Aaargh! I joke that Pat sees the women’s role in cycling as pretty podium girl, or producing cute babies for the men to take onto the podium, but sometimes it feels like that’s not far off!


    • I don’t think I should give the full salary range because with a team of this size, that’s almost like giving salaries of certain individuals and their right to privacy trumps your right to know. I’m sure you can appreciate that.

      • Sarah Says:

        Thanks Gerard, I do understand that for the team this year, but it would be nice to know what the top women are earning (ball-park, non-person, non-team-specific) to get an idea of the range. I’ve heard people say that if eg a top woman is getting eg €50k, then a living minimum wage can’t be hoped for at the lower levels – but if they’re on eg €200k or €500k, that’s a difference, if that makes sense? Knowing the “Cav says €800k/year is underpaid” & “Wiggins is on a million a year” is useful when eg Vaughters says that the men’s minimum wages are far too low…

        • Sarah Says:

          oh, and sorry for the hundred-thousand Qs, but is there any way you can tell us which teams are the “good guys” in at least paying their women riders – and also if there’s any campaigning behind the scenes that we as fans don’t get to see? Completely understand if loyalties between teams mean you can’t!


        • To be honest, I have no idea who the best paid female rider is and how much she is paid. It’s always possible that somebody has an incredible deal that is completely out of line with the rest (that happens on the men’s side too), but I doubt there is anybody making 500k or anything close to that. 50k is already a lot in women’s cycling, for sure that would put you in the top-10% in the world (remember that if 25% already makes zero, it goes pretty fast).

  4. connie Says:

    This is a great dialogue and great service Gerard – thanks for fostering it! I do believe however that Pat McQuaid’s comments were not explained properly. If I understood it correctly, he was reluctant to commit women’s teams to a minimum wage because he was afraid it would limit the number of UCI teams. Now he didn’t articulate it well so it sounds like he was complaining about the level of the competitive playing field.


    • Hi Connie, I’ll cover those points tomorrow and after. I made a bit of a mess of it by introducing the McQuaid comment and the response but not really addressing either as I still needed to go over the basics first.

      Your input in this debate is very much appreciated, so I hope you’ll read the next blogs too.

      • connie Says:

        I definitely would love to be part of the debate. I wish that Global Cycling for UCI meant including the women at every opportunity – but clearly, it doesn’t. I believe every UCI men’s team should a women’s team, and that every new stage race should include a women’s race. I can’t really address minimum wages or equal prizes – I can say that women’s cycling needs something – more girls racing (and yes I mean young girls), more opportunities for the pros, more exposure for the elite women – and then with all of that will come more money. Look forward to your next blog.


        • I don’t think you should force men’s pro teams to also start a women’s team. While for some sponsoring companies a women team is very interesting, and maybe even more interesting than a men’s team, for most companies this is not true. Forcing those companies to also sponsor a woman’s team would make them reconsider sponsoring a team at all, and if they do they take away a spot for a company that is really interested in women’s cycling. A minimum wage could also scare some companies to sponsor a UCI team, but I think it’s what women’s cycling needs to get to a higher level. Because right now I think the top riders are at a very high level, but the difference with the riders at the back is too big.

  5. Ebony Princess Says:

    This is ridiculous gerardvroomen. They are websites that candidates can research the salary ranges for particular jobs but not in cycling. So let’s not sit here all day debating rubbish unless you are prepared to at minimum provide a frame of reference with salary ranges for the top-brass-women racers. Otherwise this discussion makes no sense.

    The UCI is a male managed organization where the women have no voice—period! The real question that we should be asking is: what are the women you mentioned doing to make this situation change? I can tell you – nothing! They will complain and do nothing. In the history of the world nothing comes about without a fight! For example, they were plenty of individuals who fought to abolish slavery; allow women to vote and own property – those things required many fights! Where is the fight in these women?

    Should the bicycle racing community provide a minimum salary to top women performers? Absolutely! But only when these affected women are prepared to fight for change and/or voice their opinion in vociferous way .

    • Margriet Says:

      If I as a rider start complaining about not getting paid or not getting paid enough I will burn my own bridges. Getting a spot on a team will be a even harder! Of course I want a minimum wage in women cycling, but risking not being able to ride my bike stops me from fighting – this counts for most of the “average” riders i guess, for me 10 other girls that want to ride for nothing!

      Comparing women and men teams are like comparing apples and pears, budgets are so different. Some of the women teams (who not pay there girls, staff is not paid either) run on a budget that are the same size as 3 neopro minimum wages (after your example).

      Unfortunately there is a long way to go in women cycling before we are on the same level as the men.

      • Stuart Says:

        Completely agree with Margriet. There is, unfortunately, a need for some political game playing for progress to be made (as the situation is currently within the sport).

        For a rider to come out and question the salaries being paid (or not being paid) is inviting companies to find an excuse not to back the sport. Very few riders are in a position where they can financially risk making bold statements which can look negatively on existing sponsors which sponsor teams on a rolling 12 month contract.

        I also know of existing sponsors in the sport who would love to invest more but can’t justify it to shareholders due to the lack of coverage within women’s cycling.

  6. Chiefhiawatha Says:

    Apathy is all the the overwhelming majority of even diehard cycling fans can muster about women’s cycling. I’ve never had one conversation with another associate about women’s cycling.

    For many years even the men had actual jobs outside of their sport. Many aspiring pros still do, look at what domestic men get paid.

    The money isn’t there for the ladies. Just race for the sake of it.


  7. I think providing women with the security of a minimum wage will increase not only the quality of the riders, but also the depth of women’s cycling.

    We see an extraordinary diversity of skill & specialisation of male pros because these cyclists have been treated as professionals for decades. They are able to support themselves and their families and create a stable environment for them to live/train where they want and how they want.

    Clearly, that freedom and security can remove some of the uncertainty, stress and challenge out of the life of a pro bike rider.

    Many might say that there are not enough great female riders to justify a minimum wage, that the sport has not ‘developed’ enough (thankyou, UCI President) but I would have to say that Philipe Gilbert and has put a few highly paid male riders in their place this season!

    Sure, the pro women’s peloton has its own phenomena: Marianne Vos, who won dozens of races this season. But it has also seen a great growth in talent and quality of teams this season, notably the performances of Team Hitec Products with their leader, Emma Johansson.

    The Italian team Cipollini Gambenini was rumoured to be paying its riders €50k and it successfully disproved the theory of a team of Champions not working as a Champion Team. Good salaries meant that this group of former world champions felt secure and able to ‘work’ and do a job, not ruthlessly race their own team mates, as too many smal unsupported teams often encourage.

    A great majority of elite female cyclists have come across to the sport later in life, with ‘former lives’ as university students, wives, mothers, professionals and athletes in other disciplines.
    (Which means the age average ruling that applies to UCI women’s teams is also counter productive & anti-competitive, but that’s another issue!)

    The sacrifices we make are significant enough without having to rely on family/partners to pay our rent in a shitty apartment just to stay out of a toxic team house environment.

    I thought the role of a UNION is to support its members; encourage, cultivate and promote ALL its constituents. Whether they ride BMX, CX, road, track or happen to be female.

    Let’s hope things change soon!

  8. Chiefhiawatha Says:

    And what would this union say? What would the fight consist of? Here is how it will go

    Women: If you don’t pay us minimum wage, we won’t race!
    Sponsor: ok

    There has to be a segment of the population (numbering more than fit onto a bus) to care about the sport (as pursued by professionals), for its absence to be a threat to the sponsor.

  9. SvelteSoutherner Says:

    It is important not to brand teams as good/bad guys based on what they pay their riders. Some teams have little access to sponsorship money. Men’s cycling does not draw many eyeballs outside of July, much less women’s cycling. The riders can negotiate for whatever salary they can get. If it is not enough to sustain their lifestyle, they will choice another occupation.

    That women’s racing does not receive more attention is a travesty. But please do not make out certain teams to be less worthy because of simple economics.

  10. Jean-Marie Says:

    Hiring and paying riders is a primary cost of doing business in running a professional level cycling team. Asking riders to ride for free (or for a pittance) is tantamount to expecting them to subsidize the business out of their own pockets.

    Corporations decide- for a variety of reasons- that a cycling team makes a worthwhile investment in their branding and marketing strategies. The teams and their infrastructure become an extension of the company’s advertising. It’s not acceptable for riders- men or women- to foot the bill, so to speak, for a company’s advertising.

    Women deserve minimum pay. Period. Full stop.

    The fact that the Garmin-Cervelo team recognized this and put a stake in the ground with regard to minimum salaries for women is excellent, but it should be the norm, not the exception. Again, it’s simply a cost of doing business.

    Put another way: if a team can’t afford to pay the bills that go along with running that business, it shouldn’t be in business in the first place.


    • Thanks for the thoughts. It’s a bit linguistic juggling, but I don’t think we can say “let’s call it professional cycling, therefore people should get paid, that’s a cost of doing business”. The reality is the other way round I think. We have cycling, and once everybody gets paid to do it we can call it professional cycling.

  11. Stuart Says:

    Hey Gerard,

    I thought I’d add to the debate on here rather than twitter. My perspective is coming from what we’ve seen at our non-uci level women’s cycling team.

    A lot of the existing sponsors investing in women’s cycling are doing so because they want to give local girls an opportunity to race their bikes. If there was going to be an enforced minimum wage for UCI registered teams, I suspect the teams would just not bother to renew their registrations.

    We’ve deliberately chosen not to be UCI registered because we don’t feel it adds value to our race programme and as yet, we’ve never had issues getting invites to top races. Our belief is we’d rather our sponsors invest that money in other ways into the sport (they sponsored a televised women’s criterium series here in the UK) and should things become more competitive, then we will reassess.

    Ideally the UCI would step in, but having spoken to Pat about this two weeks ago, I know it’s not going to happen. Out of interest, what do you believe would be the reaction amongst the men’s teams if the UCI were to enforce some kind of women’s cycling presence in the same way they did with financial contributions to anti-doping etc? Would an extra 300k make that much of a difference?


  12. To Sarah, I don’t think it is a matter of naming the good and the bad guys. I think virtually everybody who is running a women’s team is part of the good guys. If they don’t pay, or pay very little, then that’s not because the team manager pockets all the money and gets rich It’s because they work on a very small budget and everybody, not just the riders but also the staff and the manager him/herself work for very little.

    • Sarah Says:

      I do get that, but there do seem to be some teams that expect an awful lot from unpaid riders (just a tiny few, and there’s a world of difference between a tiny team & a team that presents as big & “pro”)

  13. tom hewitt Says:

    The economics of professional cycling don’t add up. Where do the receipts come from? Where’s the income? There are negligible ticket sales. Team sponsors can’t measure how effective their investment might be in terms of sales. Advertising departments would rather establish a relationship with an agency that’s on the same page as they are, rather than paying the bills for a team of gypsy cyclists that’s wandering from one little town in Europe to another. There’s no home team to root for, either. Who personally identifies with HTC or Tibco or Peanut Butter & Company?

    You could make the case that women’s cycling is fortunate to exist at the level it presently occupies, although it’s certainly admirable to try and improve the situation. Actually, since women outnumber men in the general population, perhaps the lady cyclists should ponder the disregard that their own sex has for the sport and try to get the females on board.

  14. Nancy Says:

    I am a cat 2 women in cyclocross with a full-time job and also a cat 3 on the road. I realize with a cat 2 license on the road that I can entered in almost every big race in North America. With a cat 3 on the road, I can still do quite a bit of what is called on the flyer “pro race “. And the cat 2 is not a limiting factor in cyclocross.

    I have a friend that completed a full NRC schedule with a team that had travel money but she needs to pay her road bike.

    My point is that it is not looking very professional and I think a minimum wage is a way to start.

  15. andrewp Says:

    Garmin Cervelo womens team were a UK registered team, no? UCI contract “suggests” that the team pay one of the following:

    “This pay may not be less than the following amount:
    (Choose one)
    - The legal minimum wage of the country of the nationality of the UCI Team;
    - The amount set by (name of NF) in its national regulations;
    - The minimum wage negotiated by (name of NF) with (e.g. name of riders’ union) of the country”

    Seems anomalous that GC team’s minimum wage rates set below the UK NMW limit.


  16. A few years back I read the UCI minimum pay for the men’s teams. At the time it was Div I, II and III. There was no minimum pay for Div III teams or what we call continental teams today.
    I was bit in shock as the minimums were so low. That a Div III (Continental) team doesn’t have any demand to pay at all was also a bit of a shock.
    Of course as they are minimums it was hard to say what each rider might be paid and even harder to guess the men’s pay.
    At that time an National Football League players minimum pay was over $40,000 – now thats third string, sit on the bench and practice team pay.
    Right now the National Basketball League players are not working and they are asking $5 million dollars (USA) as the minimum pay. Of course, count also that the Football (NFL USA) settled for 50% of income agreement of total income from TV and stadium sales.
    The only reason I bring this up is to point out that the problem with low pay for both women and men pro cyclists has a lot to do with how the UCI and Pro cycling is organized and less to do with minimum pay demands set by the UCI. These are minimum wages and a team can pay anything they like above that amount.
    Cycling’s stadium is the open road and selling tickets is only done at the finish in VIP zones and Bleachers. The stadium is ON TELEVISION. I bet no teams are getting a % of the sales of TV rights. TV rights are owned by the Race Promoter.
    However, when the UCI forbid teams and riders to participate in the tour several years ago Amaury Sports offered the teams money to (a lot of money) to defy the UCI and ride the race. So we can see the money is there.
    If we look at how the NFL and other large/rich sports are organized and compare it to pro bike races we begin to see what keeps the sport small and poor (in my opinion).
    Where the NFL has an organisation that is unified to reward all the participants in creating ths sport. It also has a unified structure to sell sponsorships, TV rights etc.
    This is the modern paradigm of professional sports – Cycling has no such structure.
    The NFL and other pro sports have team and rider unions… pro cycling has neither. There is no counterbalance to the UCI to inside the organisation… Cycling grew over the last 100 years a more fractured model.
    I wrote this about the evolution of the sport and the dynamics involved that make pro racing possible.
    http://www.dailypeloton.com/displayarticle.asp?pk=12049

    The UCI governing the sport, the race organizers owning the TV rights, The teams and riders practically without a voice in the game.
    Back to the topic. I’d be for a minimum wage for all pro teams including women with a liveable wage.
    McQuaid may say women’s cycling isn’t developed but the facts say otherwise: There are national and World pro championships, A Women’s World Cup, Tours of Italy etc.. Just what does Mr. McQuaid mean by “developed”?
    It of course like the men’s pro riders don’t have a union to negotiate wages and other benefits with their teams. They are largely voiceless and as a result powerless.
    If we expect someone to ride as a pro he needs to have enough financial support to be able to train full time. Anything less and he is an Elite rider without contract.
    The question I often feeel compelled to ask on this is why do we need the UCI to have pro cycling at all?
    The only real power the UCI has is the selection/validation of riders for the Olympics every 4 years. The Olymics are just another event organizer and they don’t share much money with the UCI, riders and teams and believe me they make millions selling the TV broadcast rights.
    My personal conclusion to this is that the sport needs a new form of organisation for professional cycling; one that is owned by the men and women who create the spectacle one that is unified in growing the sport in popularity so there is more money for the race organisers, team owners and riders that can be shared among the principals who create the action. The UCI could have a part to play in this as a partner but not as the owner or ruler of the sport. If this new organisation is successful each of the parties involved should become better compensated as the sport grows to ever increasing TV audiences around the world. We already know it won’t be on ticket sales to stand on the top of Alpe de Huez to watch the riders go by.
    I know if I counted all the TV hours of pro Football, Soccer, Basketball,Golf and Baseball any of these sports would out rank cycling by a wide margin. Of course some of you will say you can watch pro cycling on line… this is good but it isn’t ideal if you want to reach and make new fans who hardly know that pro cycling exists other than having heard of the Tour de France.
    I like you love the sport; but it won’t be real until its on your nations major TV channels (not sateliite and cable) where they can be seen and find new fans.
    Its true that women’s racing is often given “second fiddle” coverage compared to men’s racing… I’ve always felt that it deserved the same quality of coverage and when we have the resources we do. We used to have a women’s editor and two writer/photographers covering just the women’s races.
    One other thing: Pro Cyclist John Leswynn tried to organise a union of pro riders several years ago in the USA. A lot of the riders felt a minimum wage would make a lot of the smaller teams disappear as they wouldn’t be able to get enough money from sponsors… I don’t know if that is truly the case. so be careful what you wish for. Consider a category for Elite Teams or a low wage group that will make it possible to bridge riders onto teams…. seek out the owners of teams to guide you.
    Growing the women’s side of the sport and reorganizing the sport so it is more popular will make it more wealthy should improve incomes for riders, teams, organizers and teams.
    Cheers,
    Vaughn Trevi


    • Good points here. Of course the hilarious part is that these American pro sports are so successful because they are adhering to almost socialist ideals. Equalization payments, equal sharing of TV revenue, a draft where the worst team gets rewarded with the best talent, etc.


      • Thanks Gerard.
        This is true… they operate as a monopoly. Then again most national organisations operate on a monopoly controlling the sport as they are designated as the only selector for the Olympic games. This makes it impossible or nearly impossible for other racing organisations to compete: for example the ACA (Ameirican Cycling Association) with USA cycling the official acknowledged legal entity in the usa.
        I didn’t mean to suggest that we adopt the model of any of these pro sports exactly as they are today – I think that would be a huge mistake.
        Nor am I a fan of socialism or monopoly… both are problematic – but there is a point where cooperation for the good of an activity one agrees on what you compete on and what you don’t for the greater good.
        The salient point is that there is more to gain working together for the good of the sport.
        Each of the groups (riders,Teams and race organisers) could choose to work together to improve the position the sport on the world stage.
        Cycling isn’t NASCAR Football or Basketball. It has its own unique history and traditions. I would hope we wouldn’t lose these in trying to make cycling something it isn’t.
        One of these items being that one can start with a club team, and progress to and through elite, Div III continental… grow into a pro continental and then Div I ProTour outfit. This is a merit system – no franchises are sold as in other pro sports.
        The ProTour in many aspects tried to legislate a franchise system by redifining the teams… of course not with a lot of input from the teams causing conflict.
        They tried to legislate away the problem of sponsors coming and going – If the sport grew in prominence it would have all the sponsors it required.
        This is simply basic marketing to build demand by increasing the fan base.
        Competition is good and Cycling has always been pretty much an openly competitve sport for teams to move up. I would hate to lose that.
        The point here is the more fans the sport has the greater amount of sponsors it will gain for teams and races and TV coverage.
        A friend of mine who has been to all three tgrand ours commented that the the tour is like the Olympics in that it is a Major I(nternational Sporting EVENT. The tour transcends cycling drawing international attention and attendance from sports fans who would not be considered cycling fans. As a result he tour has no shortage of sponsors or problem selling TV rights.
        Things are a lot better today than in the late 50′s when I got copies of English and European magazines two weeks after a race to follow the sport. We know have a lot of online Live video available and some live cable and TV here in the USA.
        Some people think that the NFL, Golf, NBA etc were always this way… that isn’t really the case. It was made to happen and while we may have a few of ths several hundred bike races available to watch today – every NFL and NBA game will be available on TV in the USA and elsewhere.
        I believe the same could happen with cycling.
        A note on women’s cycling. In talking with several of the race organisers here who are very supportive of women’s cycling, they comment it would be easier if the fields grew in women’s races to put on bigger races with larger prizes if the fields grew. Men’s fields are much larger and thus bring in more money that support the races – Race organisation in the end is a business and have to turn a profit to return and have a race next year… and when we talk about pro cycling it is a business as well.


  17. [...] Minimum wage for women riders [...]

  18. Phil Says:

    I’m thinking of starting a ‘professional’ tiddly winks team. Should I also expect minimum wage?

    At the end of the day, there is little to no interest in the women’s sport so why would a sponsor commit to such a large outlay of wages? It is still business. Companys don’t just have pots of money to throw at a sport no one watches.

    Maybe in an ideal world, but guess what, it isn’t.


    • Thanks for your comments. When you really think about it, it’s actually worse. Cycling dwarfs the NFL when it comes to its audience, the 100M people watching the Superbowl is nothing compared to the viewership that cycling gets worldwide. Yet the revenue for pro cycling is obviously a pittance compared to that “little local sport” called NLF football.


  19. [...] recently addressed the issue of sharing the wealth with riders at all levels of the sport through a minimum wage. His views are worth considering and taking on board as part of the whole revenue-sharing debate. [...]


  20. Brilliant article on The tour and how much the teams get… a must read.
    Phil, I don’t exact quote but its something like this: Women control and make the decisions on a majority of the money spent in the typical American home.
    What is, is not always a gauge of what can be.
    The first NFL Super Bowl (1967) achieved a ranking of 18 – 35 Share by Nielson, being seen by 24 million. 30 second Ads sold for $37,000. It also didn’t sell out the LA Coliseum.
    The 2009 Super Bowl had a Neilson Ranking of 42, share :64. A 30 second ads sold for 5.3 million and was sold out with tickets selling for a lot more than the original twelve dollars you would have paid for the first game.
    http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2009/01/18/historical-super-bowl-tv-ratings/11044/
    2011 Super Bowl XLV became the most-watched U.S. television program ever, and FOX became the first network ever to exceed 100 million viewers (100.9 million) for a night in prime time, according to fast-national ratings released today by Nielsen Media Research. Today the Super Bowl plays to an international audience… these are only USA figures.
    I would hazard to guess out of those 110 million US viewers in the USA that not many had ever heard of Professional Women’s bike racing… some may have heard of the Tour de France.
    My point is that is this is the available audience if the sport were marketed well and that goes for men and womens cyclesport.
    Marketing is what makes a product well known and well thought of.
    Women’s products and the products they purchase for the home might be the best type of sponsors for women’s cycling; But like any product bike racing’s wealth will grow in response smart marketing.
    Your absolutely right that it is a business. Successful businesses all have a marketing division whether it is Coca Cola or the local Real Estate Office…. Cyclesport has nothing to c ompare with the NFL and other pro sports, but it could if it organised to support such; most of the marketing is being done to the already existing fan base not directed on expanding the fan base.
    I agree with you in one sense – you can’t just make rules for a nimum wage and expect teams to come up with money ththey don’t have.
    You have to expand the base of people watching and flollowing the sport that will result in more and better paying sponsors. And this might better be done by a unified effort of Cycling internationally combining their efforts not on a one by one team or local effort in marketing the sport so more people know about it and how exciting it is.
    Sorry for the long comments; but this is an area I’ve considered a long time. As an aside, Although cycling has grown tremendously over the past 20 years its an older sport than many of the top pro sports one has to ask why it doesn’t have the prominence and wealth of some others and why pay continues to be paltry in comparison.


  21. Thanks for your comments. When you really think about it, it’s actually worse. Cycling dwarfs the NFL when it comes to its audience, the 100M people watching the Superbowl is nothing compared to the viewership that cycling gets worldwide. Yet the revenue for pro cycling is obviously a pittance compared to that “little local sport” called NLF football.

    Thanks Gerard,
    The Super Bowl is just one game at the end of the season.
    By my best reckoning the NFL broadcast 32 games a week during their 17 week season with 10 playoff games plus the Superbowl. That’s 240 events all on TV. Some available free on three commercial networks and the rest available through cable or Satelite – some via paid subscription.
    In short that is every pro game during the season across an area larger than Europe when you count Canada and international Satelite broadcast…. Not something that the UCI could claim.
    UnfortunatelyI, I couldn’t find the number of hours or viewers for all of the games… But they must be doing something right to afford such lavish coverage.
    Best I can rekon that is roughly over 500 hours of Live NFL games on TV. It’s more comparable to the Soccer/football of the World Cup.
    I don’t know that cycling dwarfs the NFL or not; but I doubt it.
    Just for fun, the three Grand tours are approximately 180 hours in TV time; cycling would need another 160 – 2 hour Live race broadcasts to match the NFL TV broadcasts..
    I guess if cycling had a marketing group it could give us the figures of how many hours of pro cycling races are available on TV each week in each season – They might as well tell us how big the audience was and how much money was brought in for the sale of TV rights or advertising.
    Then we calculate what % the teams and riders are sharing in.
    I bet the NFL could tell us, and I’ll bet the UCI hasn’t a clue.
    I’d hazard a guess that the NFL if nothing else gets more money for its product (games) than cycling gains for their product (bike races). I bet the Olympics or A.S.O. could tell you down to the centime, if they cared to share the information. (and I’m not a betting man ;-)
    But you won’t hear any pro football players asking for minimum wages; (like the pro women riders) the NFL organization rewards the teams and players lavishly out of its profits.
    My only point is that a reorganised group with central marketing for pro cycling might bring about the same result.
    Creating a larger fan base, more bike sales, more: races. bike riders, racers and more sponsors around the world willing to support the sport.
    “Football is a game, cycling is a sport.” Tom Simpson
    Cheers,
    Vaughn


  22. […] recently addressed the issue of sharing the wealth with riders at all levels of the sport through a minimum wage. His views are worth considering and taking on board as part of the whole revenue-sharing debate. […]


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