Mountain Bike Reviews Forum banner
1 - 20 of 42 Posts

·
Banned
Joined
·
252 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
https://www.pinkbike.com/news/bike-check-nina-hoffmanns-juliana-she-10.html

The story above caught me by surprise. Nina is a top 5 women's DH racer. With Tahnee and Atherton both out for the season, she is likely to wind up a top 3 finisher overall. However, she does not have a team sponsor.

From what I can gather from the story, she pieces together travel expenses from multiple small sponsorships, then relies on volunteers for any mechanical support.

I was under the assumption that the top 10 or 12 or 15 racers in XC and DH respectively made a lot of money (six figures), with earnings dropping off sharply after that.

Interestingly, Chloe Woodruff, a World Cup short track winner this season, and I believe top 5 or top 10 racer overall prior to Les Gets, has been absent from World Cup racing the last couple of races, indicating she does not make enough money to travel to every event.

It seems like the number of male and female racers who can make a living from mtb racing is in the single digits for both men and women total. As in, there are 10 or less racers combined, regardless of gender, in all events, who net, say $50K or more after expenses annually. Does that sound correct?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
677 Posts
Interestingly, Chloe Woodruff, a World Cup short track winner this season, and I believe top 5 or top 10 racer overall prior to Les Gets, has been absent from World Cup racing the last couple of races, indicating she does not make enough money to travel to every event.
Semi-OT, but have you seen/heard her say as much? The alternative theory is that because the champs and Nove Mesto 2020 are really the only two ways into the Olympics, she's putting together a solid training block for champs. If that's what she's doing, it makes a ton of sense.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,493 Posts
I'd be curious to see what the purse is for a world cup race if any, and how deep the payouts go.
Pay out in euros for pro men and women in dh and xco are:
1st 3750
2nd 2100
3rd 1250
4th 800
5th 600
and pays down to 10th place (200 euro)

There is also a year end pay out.

A lot of riders do not have great contract money. (if any)
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
252 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Pay out in euros for pro men and women in dh and xco are:
1st 3750
2nd 2100
3rd 1250
4th 800
5th 600
and pays down to 10th place (200 euro)

There is also a year end pay out.

A lot of riders do not have great contract money. (if any)
Are the payouts the same for short track top 10 finishers?

BTW I'm not saying that the racers "should" earn more; I just assumed (perhaps like many people) that top ranking professional athletes make a lot of money (unless proven otherwise), but that's far from universally true.

In MMA for example, only a handful of champions receive six figure payouts on fight night. The vast majority of fighters, even top contenders, make around $30K per fight, and most compete just once or twice a year; less if they are injured. They have to pay for their own training camp expenses--coaching in particular can take a big chunk out of their purse.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,493 Posts
Are the payouts the same for short track top 10 finishers?

BTW I'm not saying that the racers "should" earn more; I just assumed (perhaps like many people) that top ranking professional athletes make a lot of money (unless proven otherwise), but that's far from universally true.

In MMA for example, only a handful of champions receive six figure payouts on fight night. The vast majority of fighters, even top contenders, make around $30K per fight, and most compete just once or twice a year; less if they are injured. They have to pay for their own training camp expenses--coaching in particular can take a big chunk out of their purse.
I don't see short track (xcm)listed in the pay outs. It is listed in the World Championship payouts.

Sadly, mountain bike payouts are far from what they were in the heydays of the 90s. By early 2000s in the US, there was NO payout for pros at National events!( due to some behind the scenes douchebaggery)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,035 Posts
Prize money in mountain biking is not big. Actually of all the cycling disciplines it has the lowest. The best for prize money is actually CX. A top 10 CX rider will make 30K to 100K in prize money alone during a season. And never mind the start money

For a high level professional there are three main sources of income.

1. Salary. Salary depends mainly how good you are. There are other factors, do you live in cycling nation, do you put the time and effort into marketing, have you had success in the past. Approximate salary values:
1. World Champion, world cup overall winner, Olympic medalist: 100K+. Most in the 100-200 range with some obvious names well above that.
2. Regular top 10 world cup rider. 30-80K
3. Regular top 30 rider. 10-30.
4. Outside of the top 30 5-15.

2. Nation support. Most nations (US is an exception) give their athletes some sort of support. In canada athletes get a card, which works out to about $20,000 per year tax free. Other nationals athletes are part of the army, they do two weeks of service per year and are then paid a salary for the whole year.

3. Personal sponsors. An athlete in right area with the right connections will often have a private sponsor who gives them money to assist them as they progress through the sport.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,108 Posts
1. Salary. Salary depends mainly how good you are. There are other factors, do you live in cycling nation, do you put the time and effort into marketing, have you had success in the past. Approximate salary values:
1. World Champion, world cup overall winner, Olympic medalist: 100K+. Most in the 100-200 range with some obvious names well above that.
2. Regular top 10 world cup rider. 30-80K
3. Regular top 30 rider. 10-30.
4. Outside of the top 30 5-15.
Are expenses covered for travel to races, accommodations, training camps in off season even etc. for the level 2,3 or 4 level riders? Or are they covering these expenses themselves? Crazy low incomes when you consider what it takes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,035 Posts
Are expenses covered for travel to races, accommodations, training camps in off season even etc. for the level 2,3 or 4 level riders? Or are they covering these expenses themselves? Crazy low incomes when you consider what it takes.
Really depends on their team situation and what country they are from.

A rider on a world cup team typically has travel expenses covered for races. This include air-fair, accommodations and a per diem. This is where it is challenging for non-European riders. These cost are typically around $20,000 for a world cup season, where as for European rider they are a small fraction of that amount.

Right now the only riders with a world cup team from North America are Kate, Emily, Chris Blevins, and the Norco Factory riders. Everyone else is sort of making their own way. And this where the national federations come into play. If you look you see a lot of riders racing in Team Canada kit, or Team USA kit. Those riders are being supported by their national federation. Depending on their nation ranking they are either having all their expenses covered or having to pay a project fee of something like $1000.

Teams are typically not involved in training camps. Training is usually looked after by national federations or private coaches.

When compare to major pro-sports there isn't a lot of money in mountain biking, but when compared to the vast majority of Olympic sports it is actually really good.

And most athletes do really well once they retire and get a "real job". The focus it takes to be successful in sport makes them very successful in their post race careers. I know all the elite racers I have coached over the years are at the top of their chosen profession.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
914 Posts
I was under the assumption that the top 10 or 12 or 15 racers in XC and DH respectively made a lot of money (six figures), with earnings dropping off sharply after that.
There was some article in one of Swiss magazines year or so ago, where it was actually written that Schurter is destroying mtb sport (xc at least). He's so big in mtb that all sponsors want him and noone else. There was also written he's the only one in xc that has 6 figure income, and even he is in low 6 figures, which means somewhere between 100.000 and 150.000 Swiss franks (pretty much same would be in USD) and considering we are talking numbers before all takes, that's actually very very little money. Based on that article, most of others were around average or even under average salary normal people get. And with some bad luck, you are actually racing, and finishing top 10 in WC for free (one of top 4 Swiss guys was actually racing a season for free bike and equipment).
So I guess it's not so spectacular as it might look, but then again, with so much coverage as mtb is getting, it's actually surprising that anyone would even get even just free bike.
 

·
Up In Smoke
Dirt Roadë
Joined
·
3,281 Posts
The best for prize money is actually CX. A top 10 CX rider will make 30K to 100K in prize money alone during a season. And never mind the start money
Do you know if there is an entry fee to attend a world cup cyclo-cross race as a spectator? If so, I could see why the payouts are so high since there are thousands of spectators lining just about every section of a CX course and I would hope some of that revenue rolls into the payouts. Seems like the Mountain bike racers are practically putting on a free show in comparison.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,493 Posts
Do you know if there is an entry fee to attend a world cup cyclo-cross race as a spectator? If so, I could see why the payouts are so high since there are thousands of spectators lining just about every section of a CX course and I would hope some of that revenue rolls into the payouts. Seems like the Mountain bike racers are practically putting on a free show in comparison.
Spectators pay around 6-10 Euro to get into most CX WCup events ( and most of them head right to the beer tent)
Riders do not pay to race.
The promoter gets sponsors to cover the cost of the event.
All in....it cost 400,000+ to put on a CX World Cup
I haven't been involved in MTB WCup for a long time....but seeing that they rarely happen in the US...that's a sign of how much they cost.(edit....it costs 32,500 for a UCI sanction....add in prize list, tv, officials,venue, etc...and you're well on your way to a 3-400,000 weekend...with little hope of making that back)

With a quick Google....it's easy to find pay outs for MTB World Cups and CX World Cups on UCI's site
CX WC payout is 5000/3500/3000/2700/2500 and pays down to 30th place for women and 40th for men,( that's 39,500 total for men and 29.820 for women..plus pay outs for U23 and JRs) There is also big year end pay outs in cx.

CX riders also can make big $$$ in start money at C1 races ( like Super Prestige and DVV Trophee series)....Sven Nys used to get 8000 Euros. That number has dropped in recent years.
And look at how many cx races the top guys do between World Cups and C1 and C2 races.
Big paying mtb races are thin.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
252 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
There was some article in one of Swiss magazines year or so ago, where it was actually written that Schurter is destroying mtb sport (xc at least). He's so big in mtb that all sponsors want him and noone else. There was also written he's the only one in xc that has 6 figure income, and even he is in low 6 figures, which means somewhere between 100.000 and 150.000 Swiss franks (pretty much same would be in USD) and considering we are talking numbers before all takes, that's actually very very little money. Based on that article, most of others were around average or even under average salary normal people get. And with some bad luck, you are actually racing, and finishing top 10 in WC for free (one of top 4 Swiss guys was actually racing a season for free bike and equipment).
So I guess it's not so spectacular as it might look, but then again, with so much coverage as mtb is getting, it's actually surprising that anyone would even get even just free bike.
I would've thought that Schurter made more than that, for sure. Possibly $250K given his long list of victories.

Aaron Gwin claims his annual income is 7 figures:
https://reviews.mtbr.com/how-much-do-worlds-best-cyclists-earn

From what I can tell, Gwin is the only mtber who has confirmed his annual earnings publicly, so I suppose we'll never know for sure with the others.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
424 Posts
Gwin runs his own team and chooses his own sponsors. He is an aberration in what is, for all intents and purposes, a niche sport.

Jared Graves still needed donations for his cancer treatment. This is after a career spanning a decade and a half of racing at the highest level, the olympics included.

I'm sure the perks are great, but money-wise, the average world cup rider will only earn enough for a decidedly middle-class lifestyle.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
914 Posts
I would've thought that Schurter made more than that, for sure. Possibly $250K given his long list of victories.
Long list of victories in sport that doesn't have any decent sponsor involved, any decent media coverage/presence, and also no decent spectators, doesn't mean a thing. You could win every single race in 50 years, yet you still wouldn't earn a dime if there's no sponsors ready to pay your victories.
And as I wrote, considering how much media presence mtb, especially xc has, it's actually surprising to see anyone is actually getting paid at all, no matter how little it is.
Just look at start and track of average xc WC race. Team sponsors are bike companies and companies producing bike stuff. No out of bike business companies (except for Cornercard for Schurter and Neff, and Mercedes for overall UCI WC). Only tv that is transmitting races is Red Bull TV, which is seen by few 100 people. It's not even real tv, to have normal TV channel, but online app (sure that's probably future, but not just yet).
With this, you really can't expect riders to have salaries in range of Euro football (sorry soccer for you guys) players, where local league "stars" get million or two a season. But just compare these two... Bayern Munich is playing their matches in Allianz arena in Munich with capacity of 75.000 seats. They play around 40-50 matches each season, which means about 20-25 home matches, and for every single match arena is sold out. That means just in arena there have almost 2 millions spectators every year. Tickets are from 15 to 100eur/person/match. Every single sponsor is from outside of the sport, except for those few (Adidas, Nike, Puma) that supply them with their work tools (sport equipment), and these sponsors are huge companies from international banks, insurance companies, electronic producers or airways. Now you do calculation, why it's no big deal to pay 150mio eur for single player.
On other side in mtb, even in teams like Scott-Sram their sponsors/partners are exclusively bike or bike related companies. Small mediocre companies with basically no budget, especially no >REAL< budget for marketing and paying racers. I actually tried to search for that article, but no matter how hard I tried, there was no way for me to find it, and link it. Maybe someone else will be more succesful in that (it was in German in some Swiss newspaper if someone feels like searching some more).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,493 Posts
Primoz nailed it.

Sadly...it wasn't always this way.
In the 90s....Grundig was the main sponsor of World Cups....and dropped lots of money on it.
Pro-Flex was one of the first bike companies to bring in an outside sponsor: BMW

But when the mtb boom withered...so did sponsors and pay outs

Sponsorship dollar drought are starting to hit all sports....including the ball sports.
But it is really hitting many forms of racing..both human powered and motor.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,493 Posts
Gwin runs his own team and chooses his own sponsors. He is an aberration in what is, for all intents and purposes, a niche sport.

Jared Graves still needed donations for his cancer treatment. This is after a career spanning a decade and a half of racing at the highest level, the olympics included.

I'm sure the perks are great, but money-wise, the average world cup rider will only earn enough for a decidedly middle-class lifestyle.
I don't know the real $$ details of Gwin's deals and income.
But...where he runs his own team....there are plenty of expenses.
Equipment, travel, mechanic(s),agent, bro-friends, etc eat up that money very fast.

There is an old saying:
How do you become a millionaire racing?
Start with 10 million....
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
252 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
That's a fair point. Gwin is reporting income prior to expenses. Having said that, he could write almost all of it off for tax purposes, a considerable savings at his income level. I don't doubt he has hundreds of thousands left over. I have little doubt he can monetize his brand for years to come. I don't think he'll be in any trouble long term.

As far as the salaried racers, the overall assessment in this thread is accurate. There is relatively little money in the sport, and as a result, none of the racers are going to give specifics about income.

Interestingly, the lowest paid players in team sports don't report salaries either. In such cases, it's assumed they've signed for the minimum. Only the players with above minimum salaries have their incomes reported in media, and the same is playing out in mtb, such as with Gwin.

In mountain biking, one can always assume the riders make very little, not much more than anyone else in a day to day job and sometimes not even that!
 

·
EAT MORE GRIME
(ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻
Joined
·
7,898 Posts
imho
any elite cyclist who wants real money needs to skip the mtb and start placing in the Spring Classics. road cycling is where the big dollars exist for the truly talented hammerheads.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,493 Posts
imho
any elite cyclist who wants real money needs to skip the mtb and start placing in the Spring Classics. road cycling is where the big dollars exist for the truly talented hammerheads.
That's it?
Just win a Spring Classic and you're on easy street?
Why did I not get this memo????
Imma gonna win me one and let the money come rolling in.
 
1 - 20 of 42 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top