After 21 days of brutal cycling, Geraint Thomas took first place in the Tour de France last Sunday. The first Welshman to win the Tour, Thomas overcame not only the race’s standard punishing climbs and chaotic sprints, but a delay thanks to police pepper-spraying protesters.
For that perseverance, Thomas won a purse of 500,000 Euros, or about $582,000. That money, though, is put into a pot to be shared with other riders and crew on Thomas’ Team Sky, along with smaller prizes accumulated by other team members for winning individual stages or placing in the overall race.
As the Telegraph unflinchingly points out, those winnings—however they’re divided up—pale in comparison to the financial rewards of the premier events in most other major sports. Novak Djokovic won 2.25 million pounds, or $2.9 million, for his win at Wimbledon this year. The 2018 U.S. Open awarded $2.16 million to winner Brooks Koepka in June.
Cyclists do, however, also earn a salary from their team. Chris Froome, a two-time Tour winner also on Team Sky, pulls a salary of 3 million pounds—about $3.9 million—per year, according to Sky Sports. That’s not unusual for a team leader, while the rest of the team—so-called domestiques—mostly earn anywhere from around $180,000 to $550,000. Those salaries are largely financed through team sponsorships from equipment manufacturers.
They also, again, pale in comparison to other sports—the average American NFL player makes $2.1 million per year, itself a good bit below the $2.8 million average for soccer players in Europe’s Premier League. And for a cyclist, getting to even the middle of the earnings pack takes persistence—young team cyclists commonly start out making under $50,000 per year.