Video: How Much Money Can World Cup Racers Earn? - Fast Life Season 3 Episode 5

Mar 2, 2020
by Ed Spratt  

bigquotesThe harsh realities of the sport become apparent as the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup heads to Val di Sole, and Loïc Bruni, Kate Courtney and Finn Iles face challenges that threaten to derail the season. Red Bull



100 Comments

  • 68 2
 Income aside, it would be nice for all pros to have good health insurance/coverage, especially those hurtling through the air or down the steeps.
  • 9 11
 Guess that depends on what country you live in. Some give it to you, some you have to buy it yourself. If im driving a porsche around, im not going to get the minimum legal insurance for it. Same with high risk sports.
  • 17 0
 @owlie: If I’m racing for a world sport teams such as Red Bull Honda, I’m sure they have the funds to cover my injuries. We’re talking about pros not some Joey on a 10k bike.
  • 3 7
flag owlie (Mar 2, 2020 at 9:41) (Below Threshold)
 @Xenon303: So red bull honda should pay for your insurance?
  • 4 1
 @owlie: Your normal insurance generally doesn't travel with you... As a Canadian I've got OHIP, work insurance, and additional personal insurance, but i know that when i'm in the US, a Heli ride out off a mountain when I'm traveling, is going to be an issue. 2x when they find out what I was doing and try to not pay... Getting hurt in your own country is one thing, but when you're traveling...
  • 2 0
 @owlie: How about this, if you're racing a Porsche for the GT Works team, should the team insure it or should you personally insure it?
  • 2 3
 @ianmp: Regardless, you should have your own health insurance. What if you break your arm riding moto on the weekends? Should porsche pay for that? what if they dont?
  • 1 0
 @owlie: Wooooooooshhhhhh!
  • 40 0
 Reality check for everyone. The MTB market is tiny compared to most other sports. How many people tune into a WC DH race vs a tour level golf tournament or a major tennis match? Companies are paying racers/riders for exposure (not even necessarily results) which has lead to the rise of "influencers". Salaries are tied directly to the number of people watching, thats it.

Second issue is that companies benefit from all of the racers keeping their salaries/contracts private. Racers don't want to share that information for a variety of reasons, but they are only hurting themselves in the long run. There is a big move in the IT industry for developers, etc to share their salaries and total compensation. Companies are not even aware that individuals are doing it yet (done through an app called Blind that anyone can download), but it is leading to massive comp increases for the people participating. Until racers get over themselves and figure it out they will be stuck in the dark ages and underpaid at every level.
  • 30 0
 If your salaries remain private, the company maintains control.
  • 1 0
 @CamTakacs: Thanks for the TLBig Grin R
  • 8 11
 Thats why women in football are paid far less than men. Only stupid liberals Say its sexism, BS
  • 38 8
 Just move from usa to a democracy, and the insurance will No longer be a problem!
  • 10 50
flag konrad1972 (Mar 2, 2020 at 9:33) (Below Threshold)
 Sounds like the public school system in democratic Sweden did not teach you that USA is also a democracy. Giving half of the money I earn to the government - no thank you. Wink
  • 47 1
 @konrad1972: Most Scandinavian countries don't pay that much more than you do, they just get more. A lot more... Wink But you guys know best, you guys make the best deals, great deals.
  • 4 22
flag ianmp (Mar 2, 2020 at 11:03) (Below Threshold)
 @konrad1972: We are a democracy, the oldest one, so that point is stupid. The difference between giving 1/2 your income to the government vs. giving 1/3 to the government and between 1/8 - all of it to a private insurer, with the caveat that if the rest isn't enough you will die, is not really a slam dunk wink wink though.
  • 9 11
 5@MartyFluxMcFly: My personal income tax rate is 24%. Just google it and confirmed that the personal income tax rate in Sweden is 57%. Even if I had to pay $1000 a month for my health insurance I would still end up with more money in my pocket. Lived for 16 years in Canada (remember wife spending 10hrs waiting in emergency room) brain drain sucked me into US where I actually can afford a house. Of course if I was to live off welfare system or have a low wage job at a Scandinavian country would be ideal.
  • 2 3
 @ianmp: Also, when a Scandinavian person says Democracy, they mean social democracy. Like a Bernie Sanders wet dream social democracy. And I want to keep the condescending wink going, but it's a wink for Konrad. Which sounds suspiciously Russian BTW. Pretty sure he's about as american as apple cake and dog sausage sandwiches.
  • 5 0
 @MartyFluxMcFly: @MartyFluxMcFly: ok, for another comparison... Czech republic, democracy for just 30 years now, before fkn commies for 40 years (and now they again sneaking into goverment in "democratic parties") so i have Engineering job, paying 13% of medical and social insurance from total 49% full tax rates but otherwise, medical care is free! (of course U can pay to get better care) and for traveling i need to have propper travel insurance for risky or extreme sports.

Although we dont have ideal democratic enviroment, i think we have more freedom than US citizens, we can drink beer on public places at least... its littlebit chaotic system, but level of freedom is way higher i think...
  • 10 0
 @ianmp: The oldest democracy?
  • 8 0
 @rossmcw: yeah that made me laugh.
  • 2 4
 Much easier to implement a universal healthcare system in a tiny white wealthy European country than the massive sprawling diverse country that is the US.
  • 1 0
 @matzx: it varies by state, you can drink beer in public In Georgia but not Maryland, we have 50 states with different laws....
  • 5 0
 @ianmp: democracy has been around longer than the usa even exists.
  • 3 0
 @Thomas22: Considering Plato wrote "Republic", which covers democracy extensively in about 375 BC I'd say so. I believe the Greek City States deserve that distinction. I won't say honor as they found out the mob rule disaster it becomes. Thus the reason why the US is not a democracy.
  • 1 3
 @rossmcw @Becciu @Thomas22 @Augustus-G: You are all posting on a website, so I assume you have google, what is the controversy here? Am I supposed to count the high court of Tynwald? I think this is a reading comprehension problem. Yes democracy has popped up since pre-Babylonian Mesopotamia. The United States ...drumroll... "is" the oldest democracy, the end.
  • 2 0
 @ianmp: There's a few things going on in this thread, but mostly it's a dig. There are some key pillars in a democracy, equality being one of them. So if some people are "more equal than others", you could argue that it's not a democracy... Also, translation... Oldest implies first, you're not the first. I don't think you would even get the medal for longest run even if you do just disregard the legitimate winner... But then again, your elected president threw a tantrum when Denmark told him he couldn't buy Greenland, cause you know, that's ridiculous. So I don't think they expect much from you these days.
  • 2 0
 @ianmp: Plato also knew undisciplined Democracy turns to Mob Rule and devolves into tyranny. Cicero also expounded on this in "De re publica". Our Founding Fathers where well versed in these writings and the devil lurking in direct democracy, thus the US of A is not a Democracy but a Constitutional Republic. That is why our Constitution does not contain the word "democracy," but does mandate: "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government". To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin when asked what form of government we where to have..... "A republic, if you can keep it."
  • 2 0
 @ianmp: ah, the google argument, BRAVO.
What's to reply to a such compelling argument?
  • 1 2
 @MartyFluxMcFly @Augustus-G It's weird you guys are interpreting my factual statement, that the United States is the oldest democracy, as like a patriotic boast, or that I think it's better than any other democracy. Reading comprehension, dudes, look at the text of the post. I actually think it's getting kind of long in the tooth. Is America is being made great again, or is it run by the most dangerous kakistocracy in our history? Either way doesn't change the age of the country. For the record, most Americans believe the latter. The rise of authoritarianism is a global trend besides, so don't get too comfortable lording it over us.

Regarding all that republic vs democracy stuff, that's a middle school social studies level argument. USA is a representative democracy, everyone does it a little different, the USA is the oldest, if you have an older one kicking around I'd love to hear about it.
  • 1 0
 @ianmp: Its weird that you can't see your statement is factually incorrect.
  • 2 0
 @rossmcw: Don't be too hard on him. English is a tough language for people in the US. Words mean what that particular person wants them to mean, not what the actual definition of that word is. Same goes for history. It's a neat way to live life.
  • 1 1
 @MartyFluxMcFly @rossmcw: me: "The oldest person in Canada is Phyllis Ridgway, born 10 March 1907"
you: "Lol John Cabot sailed here in like 1500"
third person: "indigenous peoples have been in Canada for millenia"
  • 1 0
 @ianmp: I'm not sure what your point here is. But if you're trying to say that some 1st nations had a democratic process for electing chiefs, which out-dates the united states. Then yeah, that would be a good point wouldn't it? Cause it's still a thing. And if Chitetsu Watanabe, took a flight to Vancouver, that would make him the oldest person in Canada, but Phyllis would be the oldest canadian... See how words have specific meanings? Don't worry you'll get there.
  • 1 1
 @MartyFluxMcFly: The first democracy, so named, was Athens. The largest democracy is India, the smallest democracy is Nauru, the youngest democracy is Tunisia, the oldest democracy is the United States.

This has been a great time, like visiting the zoo. I wish you guys the best with your lives, maybe we can get back together and argue about who's on first.
  • 25 0
 Again no Numbers except Gwin's years old million
  • 28 15
 MTB racers really deserve to earn more than roadies
  • 34 9
 How so? The mere thought of a few hundred dollars for a (insert any part here) draws ire from this crowd. Yet roadies drop that money without a second thought. So until the mtb community starts bringing in more money than the roadies, you won't see a shift in pay. Like every sport that has multiple divisions, the ones that bring in the most money for the sponsors and manufacturers will earn the most. You think xfl should earn more than nfl? LPGA or Korn Ferry tour players more than PGA? Money is spent and earned at the highest, most attractive levels, and not those defined by a chat forum.
  • 19 0
 @ChrisNJ: it's not about buying expensive bikes/parts - $5000+ bikes from boutique brands are pretty common on the trails.

It's about exposure. Road biking has a lot bigger exposure, and that's why companies outside of the industry have their own road teams - like banks, pharmaceutical companies, media companies etc.
  • 24 29
flag scary1 (Mar 2, 2020 at 7:51) (Below Threshold)
 Nobody deserves anything. The natural human state is poverty. You fight and work for everything else
  • 27 9
 @scary1: only in Murica
  • 14 2
 How many days are there in a WC DH season?
If you added you all of the time on track in practice, qualifying and racing, it's less time than the Pro Tour classics riders did over this past weekend racing.

The WC DH is certainly more entertaining to watch (thank you RedBull), but let's be real.
  • 5 0
 @ChrisNJ: working in the industry I would totally agree that road bikers spend more money. I rarely ever see a mountain bike go out the door for more than 7 or 8k but 10k plus road bikes are something we will see come through the shop several times a year.
  • 1 2
 Companies outside the industry don't have their own road teams, they sponsor them.
  • 7 20
flag LeDuke (Mar 2, 2020 at 8:18) (Below Threshold)
 Why? Risk? Road racing is infinitely more dangerous. They regularly hit speeds that DH racers will never hit.
  • 5 0
 The market for road, race coverage and target market are orders of magnatude larger for Road than MTB. Salaries are commensurate with that audience. If it were tied to level of effort or risk of injury the highest paid athletes would probably be pro motocross.
  • 2 0
 @trizachblak: This may go for complete bikes. But do roadies also spend on something similar to upgrading disc brakes, suspension (and suspension service and tuning), frequent wheel rebuilds and just tools to do their own maintenance. Honest question because I really don't know. But it obviously is a thing for mountainbikers. The cost of a complete bike is only a fraction of what we spend in total. Though I understand that apparently people do actually buy complete bikes these days, I think people will still go through several upgrades before (and if even) they ever get another complete bike.
  • 6 5
 Here's the thing @f00bar and I don't mean it in in a bad way to attack you or to show up with arrogance, rather stating the fact: nobody gives a damn what you think who deserves what, it's not you putting your money where your mouth is, it's not you paying the athlete. Nobody deserves anything. Your friends at work can recommend you to your boss before salary negotiations - out of kindness. Just like you do here. But at the end of the day, it is you who is negotiates your salary and it is your boss paying it.
  • 4 0
 @ReformedRoadie:
Time on track?? Do you know Usain Bolt?
  • 5 0
 @vinay: For whatever mountain bikers spend on brakes or suspension upgrades after the initial sale, it's dwarfed by the amount roadies spend on their "kits".
  • 1 0
 @jtreiver7: Your point? There is a sport with almost zero risk. Lasts seconds...
I am sure he trains a lot. But again, not sure your point.
  • 6 4
 @scary1: Love it!!! Everybody thinks they have a right or deserve things just cause they are alive!! Go out an earn your place in the world, don't be a burden to it!!!
  • 1 0
 The issue is that road biking industry is way bigger than mtb industry, so there is much more money in it.
  • 11 0
 Roadies are not afraid to pay full retail, or close to it.
Mountain bikers, especially DH'ers, seems like everyone gets a "bro deal" some how.

Shops love roadies/Tri athletes, they spend money for the simplest of mechanical work.
MTB'ers will do a over haul in the parking lot at the bike park.
  • 3 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Whoa...whoa...whoa....
What the hell happened? Did the Swedish government step in and force you to switch flags?
  • 6 0
 @ReformedRoadie: no, this winter sucks balls with the weather so i decided to identify myself as a citizen of a sunny, warm country
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: It's even worse when it does warm up a couple of days, but the trails are still peanut butter...
What part of the Empire was that?
  • 2 0
 @ChrisNJ: Interesting. So they wear less protection, have fewer moving parts (except maybe a front mech and a shifter to go with it). I noticed that as a mountainbike enthusiast I am being confronted with more road bike stuff recently. Planet X used to be about dirt jump and hardcore trials and street riding, it is all road now. CRC seems to be sending both road as well as mtb merchandise and recently Pinkbike even gives us road bike updates. Good to know there is more money going in there, the more reason to stay clear of it. Riding mountainbikes is expensive enough!
  • 1 0
 @vinay: for the love of God, it’s not road , it is Gravel!
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I expect this thing to diversify until even the roadies start moaning.
extreme cyclocross (CXXX)
downgravel
super time trial
enduroad
pub-biking
restaurant-biking
adventuroad
...
  • 1 0
 Road racing events provide sponsors with much longer exposure time.
  • 2 0
 @scary1: it looks like people can't digest the truth you bring to the banquet.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: when attempting to be diplomatic, I volunteer myself as the example.
When trying to be condescending, I use the second person in pejorative examples; it appears you do so, as well.
  • 1 0
 @Three6ty: unless you're on pinkbike....then you get ignorance like "only in 'Murica "
Stupid shits.
  • 1 0
 @Ian713: lol, im used to it. Its funny that the kneejerk response is to hate America, rather than reflect and consider a fact
  • 2 0
 @scary1: Bernie is a Stalinist!
  • 1 0
 @Tormy: For that reason, the MTB manufacturers probably want to start selling more kids' stuff asap. In other words, the +40 crowd is a more reliable source of income than the 18-30 crowd. I'm more just echoing you.
  • 8 0
 This was probably one of the better Fast Life episodes where we really get to see a little bit more of the "job" of pro racing. I was also surprised to hear Aaron actually say how much he was earning. I knew it was a lot, but I didn't know it was that much.

That being said, the MLB League Minimum is $550,000 for 2019.

I wonder how many hours Kate Courtney or Schurter trains vs Gwin or Bruni or Pierron vs a Pro Footballer (soccer or NFL) vs someone like top cricketer Dhoni.
  • 14 1
 Professionals in just about any sport train a similar hour amount per day(5-7hrs or more)... MLB players have significantly more travel days but if anything their days and lives are harder because they're fitting training around their insane travel scheduled. Sure the training is different and that 5-7hr number isn't all just lifting weights or riding bikes, but in today's athletic culture nobody is getting by off 1-2 hours a day and ripping beers at night regardless of sport.

1000-1500 hours a year in training alone is pretty normal in the world of professional athletics not counting competition or travelling hours.
  • 7 0
 Those other sports also earn billions of dollars a year from their fans. I seriously doubt MTB will ever be that big of a spectator sport.
  • 1 0
 @cgreaseman: thanks for the insight. I often wonder if there are sports (or disciplines within cycling) that allow more or less training. From, what you're saying it's the classic "there is no free lunch" - there are very few sports where natural talent will win medals in an absence of training.
  • 1 1
 @Dethphist: Also, the sport is too physically demanding for most people, longer learning curve, and higher risk for injury, which is likely a reason why it not as popular road biking.
  • 2 2
 @tacklingdummy: that’s not really true. MTB vs road seems like a more dangerous sport, but death and immobilizing injury stats put road far ahead of MTB. It’s less obvious but people find it more off
putting to get scratched occasionally than getting whacked by a truck. Also road racing has elitist vibe to it, buying expensive kit and half expensive bike will always feel more elite than the most expensive Enve kitted Yeti. Finally road racing has coverage on major sport channels which means athletes give much better exposure for their advertisers. It’s a highly snobbish sport, it attracts snobs and snobs have lots of money. In road you have huge non-cycling related sponsors.
  • 5 0
 @tacklingdummy: Injury or death. Name one other mountain biker trail riding who died besides Jordi? (Steve Smith died on a moto,)
There are quite a few pro roadies who have lost there life by getting hit by cars. It is pretty freakin' scary out there now.
Mountain biking - I can determine the level of risk I am comfortable with.
Road riding - you're at the mercy of others.
  • 1 1
 @ReformedRoadie: in italy I was almost driven over by police. On purpose
  • 1 0
 Very well said! This was a great episode to watch.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns @ReformedRoadie Yeah, getting hit by a car makes it more dangerous for death, but in mtb you are likely going crash more.

My analogy of comparing road biking to mtb is like driving when it comes to skills. Everyone can drive on dry roads easily, but have them drive in the snow and most can't control their cars well. It is the same with mtb.
  • 2 1
 @tacklingdummy: taking the cars out of it, on the road, the speeds are higher...sometimes much higher, and it is 100% a hard landing. Plenty of mtb crashes involve slow speed, slow motion yard sales on dirt or mud. The most damage is to the ego.
  • 19 7
 This was the definition of clickbait. F*ck off.
  • 8 0
 Certainly in American culture, if not most of the western world, it's kinda awkward to publicly share your salary. But Gwin just did his fellow athletes a huge favor by spitting it out. Otherwise, the athletes just don't know how much they're worth if nobody will share it - and then they're forced to pay a guy like that to help them negotiate.
  • 5 1
 Bothers me when people claim pro riders should earn more because they're putting their bodies on the line for their sponsors. They're not, they are putting their bodies on the line for themselves. The money, training and free gear is a bonus. They'd still race for free if they had to. Look at all the privateers paying to compete, rather then getting paid. If Loic got dropped tomorrow, I doubt he'd quit racing.
  • 4 0
 Logged in to say: with the giant action sports push of the X Games era, outside sponsors pay the bills. Totota, Honda, RedBull etc. But with MTB, it's way more of a mass market than BMX ever was. Bikes are way more expensive and more are sold. MTB athletes and their agents need to seriously get together and figure out how to get a better slice of the pie. There's way more $$$ in MTB than there ever was in BMX. But look at BMX in 1999: $25,000 payouts with matching by their lead sponsor. So 50k in 1999 = what like 85-100k in 2020?? Per big event. Joyride should be paying out 50k at that rate.
  • 1 0
 Pretty shit pay for the level of effort and talent. A standard boring corporate gig pays better than riders outside the top 20, and you can bet the "top 10 best" in most professional occupations earn a lot more than $1 million a year.
  • 2 0
 They should hire agents to get them the best possible deal from their sponsors...health insurance should be 100% on top, travel expense, and wage!
  • 1 0
 I'm sure they all have agents or managers at the top level.
  • 1 0
 There are a LOT of dodgy agents out there. Finding a qualified one worth their cut is a rarity.
  • 4 0
 pauline ferrand prevot will you marry me?
  • 11 0
 She's currently entangled with a guy with two gold medals...
  • 3 0
 They can’t even afford to pay for their medical bills!
  • 2 0
 So any guesses?

Bruni: $900k
Kate: $375k
Finn: $200k
  • 2 0
 Nah. I think the PB crowd would be very impressed with XC numbers. The “safe” side of the sport generates HUGE amounts of money. Type A people that enjoy the pain cave and are willing to spend big dollars to make that happen. Out her in Az we might get a few hundred riders show up to an Enduro or DH race. Numbers for XC races... more than 10fold. Racers at the 24hours in the old Pueblo? 3,500. Number of roadies at El Tour De Tucson? 10,000. And a LOT of those roadies ride dirt sidewalks.
  • 1 0
 finn is about 300k
  • 2 0
 What glasses are Martin Whiteley wearing? I want those frames!!!
  • 1 0
 I be stoked to have a race entrance paid for!
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