Interview: World Cup Downhill Riders' Union Rep Emilie Siegenthaler

Sep 3, 2022 at 1:39
by Matt Wragg  
Discontent has been brewing among the riders at the World Cups for a little while now. First and foremost on their list of grievances - rider safety. Brook Macdonald's crash at Mont-Sainte-Anne Worlds and his 5-hour evacuation put it at the front of many minds. Track features like the finish bridge in Andorra this year only served to keep these concerns current. There is a feeling in the paddock that the voices of those who are risking their lives for our enjoyment are not being listened to enough. While every rider who lines up at a World Cup understands the risks they are taking, none of them want to be forced into taking unnecessary risks, like racing on an unsafe track.

Changes are coming to World Cup racing next year. Discovery, one of the world's biggest media businesses, has bought the rights to organise and stream the World Cup from 2023 for the next eight years. However, it is hard to get the party hats out yet as, aside from a recently released calendar, there are few to no details released on how the series will look next year. That uncertainty put the push to have the riders' voices heard to the forefront, and during this season there have been a series of rider-organized meetings to try and organize a response.

After the World Championships in Les Gets, the riders held a vote and Emilie Siegenthaler and Neko Mullaly were elected the riders' representatives. We sat down with Emilie (Neko was due to join too, but needed to get stitches after a qualifying crash) to hear more about what the emerging riders' union is, who it represents and what they are hoping to achieve.


Emilie Siegenthaler moments before dropping into her first practice run of the day.
Emilie Siegenthaler retired from racing World Cups in 2021.


How did the riders decide that they want to have a collective voice?


I'm not really sure about that, maybe you should ask someone like Loic or Finn that question because I got involved at this point when they started thinking they need someone that is not a rider to represent them. There were a few meetings through the season, there was one in Andorra, which I went to for a listen, and there was one maybe before that as well. There was one more in Mont-Sainte-Anne and then they started to realize that we can't meet like this all the time - it was really costly in terms of time. We need to get organized and communicate clearly. But to answer your question, I think that as soon as the Discovery news came out at the beginning of the season, they started to think that maybe it would be good if there are changes to get together and try to have a united voice, which was never really the case before.

How did you decide who would vote on a given issue?


We decided that it is going to be the overall standings for the previous year that will decide it. So we don't have to change every time.

That makes sense, it's purely based on the classifications?


It was voted on that it would be the top 30 men, top ten women, and four wild cards voting - that's how they decided to try and make it easier and more efficient. For example, Aaron Gwin was not in the top 30 from last year. That is why he is one of the wild cards, and there are a few more. I have nothing to do with that decision because I'm not allowed to vote as I'm not a rider anymore. They wanted to get a survey system organized, but no one had the time to do it, you know? So before I was elected, I was like, "Okay, I'm going to do it for you guys." I organised the survey and I think because of this I was elected as the rep along with Neko. It's all a process. None of us did it before, and I'm just here to try to help with everything that the riders want to achieve, and on all the admin stuff as well. We want to make an agreement that people are going to sign to be part of this union. It's about having someone that can work, who does the reports and all the admin stuff, and who goes to the meetings with a neutral position.

So riders will sign up for the union?


Yeah, we’re working on an agreement now and it's kind of a rush. It was voted on to make a union contract so people can't flip when a vote has happened and the majority takes it. If it's a really important subject and it's not a big majority, we might have to reconsider, but usually, if an issue has more than 65% agreement, then it should be done.


The riders do not want to see situations like Brook Macdonald's Mont-Sainte-Anne crash and the disastrous evacuation happen ever again.


How militant are the riders feeling at the moment, would you say?


The goal of this union is for the riders to have a voice and that they are asked about decisions that are going to be made next year. They feel like they've not been listened to enough in the past, especially for stuff that affects them directly, like safety. It's the organizers and UCI that decide everything. Riders have some feedback on the tracks, but they're not really considered for decision-making for prize money or anything. Downhill's prize money at the World Champs was split in two when e-bike was added to the program. No one asked anyone about this, and no one even knew before. They got the prize money back and they were like, "Oh, it's half of usual." Stuff like that, it shouldn't be decided for the riders without even telling them, today they have no way to say they don't agree with this. And a lot of things are going to happen next year, so yeah…

When you say about the tracks, all I can think about is that that finish ramp in Andorra.


Yeah, the bad thing with that situation is that people told them they should not to do it this way, and they still did it. Officials told them this is not a good idea, "Please do it differently." And the architects that designed these bridges, ignored everyone. If that sort of thing happens in the future, the riders could say, "Okay, if that's the case, we're not racing. You need to change this." And I'm pretty sure they will, pretty fast. Because one day, something really bad is going to happen and then they're going to change things. You almost saw this with Remy Meier-Smith going headfirst into the concrete on that bridge…

I didn't know that happened… Shit…


Yeah. He clipped a mat on the side of a mat that was not tied properly because, obviously, everyone was hitting it because that turn was horrible and that bridge was not made for riding. He got knocked out in his race run, and he's ok now, but a lot of things like that have happened over the years, and we can see it coming, but the riders don't feel like they have the power to make it stop. I think that was the motivation for Loic and Finn at the start. If the riders have a voice, and if the team managers get organized as well, and we get together as one, then I think ESO [the Enduro Sport Organisation, who run the Enduro World Series and are part-owed by Discovery], or whoever is going to be in charge next year, needs to work with both the riders and the managers to negotiate us. Because if they're going to change a big part of the sport, the riders and the teams are going to have to be asked on a few issues, because otherwise no one's going to be happy. We all want the sport to get better but it needs some changes and we need to have a voice because no one knows anything now, it's all rumours.

That was going to be my next question because I've been chasing Chris Ball for an interview since May. And last month I got a reply saying, "No, we're not talking to anyone at the moment." It's been six months now… I was curious how much more you know than me or do you have the same level of information?


For now, we haven't. I think that's the purpose of this interview, to try to make sure that people know that this union exists now, that it is going to be officialized with a collective agreement between the riders that are in it. And I represent all the riders that can be part of the World Cup. If someone has a problem who is not in the voting pool, they can still come to the riders' rep and I will still try to help them. To try to get the other entities that work within the community to get stuff done, or bring it to the voting pool and say, "Okay, someone spoke to me about this, what do you guys think?" But I guess concerning your question, I think ESO knows that this union exists and that me and Neko are reps, but they don't want to recognize it yet because our interests don't really align on some of the aspects. For us, it's important, that people know that this union exists and that we, the riders, want to be a part of the discussion. That's the main thing.

That's why I'm doing this, because I have no interest in me being Emilie Siegenthaler, union rep. It doesn't matter who it is actually, it's just because I have the time to do it because I'm not racing 100% like everyone else is. I have the time to put the work in through the winter. That's why I think the riders elected me and Neko. It all started from a safety point of view, the riders wanted to have a say in the safety aspects, but then this whole Discovery thing happened. An important meeting about next year happened on Tuesday, and the riders' union reps were not invited. Maybe it's because we didn't communicate on it yet because the vote only just happened. I think it was after Les Gets, so not a long time ago. The goal is to try and raise some attention to this, the cause of the riders, and try to get this right. I'm going to be here to help and represent their opinions.


What better than an almost fully enclosed bridge to lead riders to the finish area infront of the roaring crowd Said the course builders apparently.
If the riders are heard, you will not see bridges like this at a World Cup again.


Did you say that ESO isn't keen on recognizing this kind of representation?


Not yet, but I haven't asked to be in the meeting, but as soon as this interview is out and I'm going to talk to one of the cross country riders, Maxime Marotte. He was at that meeting and he said that they're talking about some stuff that directly affects downhill.

The situation you describe makes it sound like the riders aren’t involved at all at the moment.


There are two reps with the UCI, Myriam Nicole, and Greg Minnaar, they attend official meetings on behalf of the riders and the idea is that they would pass that information on to us, but we never really hear much back from that process. They are racing to the highest level, so it it reasonable to expect them to have time to do all this on a race weekend? That's why the union was created, because the riders are not happy with the way communication is working and we think we can help make the communication better.

Sounds like a tricky situation.


I think the communication has not been great. I think also some of the riders have the feeling that they express their opinions, and they don't ask anyone else, and that is not working for the union. Issues should be voted on every time. For example, we had an issue about potentially reducing the number of riders in the final. So that's something that's been voted on because we want everyone to know what position we're taking. Then you can say, "The riders don't agree with the reduction of the of the field. They might agree with the reduction of entries, but they also most of them think they should go back to 20 girls," that's what the riders think. If nobody is asking anyone else for an opinion, and the UCI rep says, "We should go to ten girls," that is just his opinion but the UCI now thinks that this is what the riders think. That's a problem.

I’d have thought having an inclusive voice from the riders would be a positive for the organizers in the long run.


Exactly. Although I don't know if it's in the interest of the broadcaster, because it's going to raise a little bit of adversity on some subjects. So it's not going to be easier for UCI or ESO to have the riders in there, but it will make it 100% better for everyone. The goal is that they involve everybody. The riders have almost no information and the team managers are just starting to get involved now. It feels like maybe they could get away with a lot of stuff if we don’t get together. Like I said, I'll know more when we open the union and try to be part of the next meeting, hopefully. Even Jolanda Neff told me today, because she feels close downhill because of Luca, "I had a talk with Maxime Marotte today and it doesn't feel like downhillers were present at this working group meeting with ESO Tuesday." I told her I thought downhill reps were there, and she told me that no one said anything. They discussed really important stuff, like top three podiums instead of five, and the riders received no communication.

I guess I didn’t realize how shut out of the process the riders are at the moment.


The riders were never really asked. It was always through the team managers, but on certain safety aspects, I don't think that team managers are as invested about safety aspects, you know what I mean? They maybe don't know as much. The riders are willing to give feedback, go on pre-race track walks with the UCI, or whoever is doing it, and try to make it work for everybody. At events, maybe go two weeks in advance to a track to give some advice something that would really make a difference and make it safer, but also make it look good, you know?

I can't help thinking when you say about the team managers, because if you look at the economics of it, the team managers, their interests don't 100% align with the athletes if you take something like concussion. Just to play devil's advocate here, but the rider can come and say, "I don't know if I should be on track." But there's a hypothetical situation where the team manager is more worried about the team's income than rider safety.


It's normal that riders care more about track safety, we are the ones racing the track. So for sure, for track safety, we would like more independence, but for financial aspects, like prize money, media rights, and stuff like that, I think it's in the interest of the riders to have someone helping them negotiate. And the team managers also have their own representative, Sean Heimdall. He has a lot of experience and I think he will be a great representative for the team managers, but I think for them it's hard to organize because there are so many of them and they have strong positions. I feel like the riders are a little bit more united on most subjects.

So where is the union right now?


What we did so far, it's making the first decision about who is voting in the union and who are the reps. Also going on track walk with UCI trying to make sure everything is safe and doing a track report. Maybe we will try to accumulate the track reports from this year so the riders' union can develop a safety checklist for every track we visit. The riders always had a good feedback opportunity through Jorge Garcia, but maybe we could try to prevent some of the issues to happen in the first place with a safety checklist. So people know, for example, they shouldn't consider a bridge with a 90-degree turn on it like in Andorra. A bridge is fine, but it needs to be straight and have paint on it, and not weird rubber or whatever else. There needs to be at least one helicopter, on standby. It sounds very basic, but Mont-Sainte-Anne didn't have a helicopter on standby. It's scary, you know?

And the second step, what the union wants to achieve now is being part of the discussions for next year. And that's why people must know the union exists and the riders want to have a seat at the table through Neko and me.


Sad to see her go but what an amazing career she s had. Emilie Siegenthaler calls it in front of the home crowd. Congrats and thank you


I suppose the big question has to be, how bad would things need to be for you to consider not being there at the first race in June?


We are trying to do everything to avoid this situation. The riders believe that together with the team managers we are in a position to negotiate some stuff, and we'll try to make it happen as smoothly as possible. But there is a possibility that if something really bad happens, that everyone finds outrageous, that the riders and the team managers together might say, "We're not signing up." But right now, we have no information. I think everybody is stoked that this huge company could make the sport great, but they can only do it if we work together. And everyone in the union thinks that way.

Yeah, I think that sounds fair because I was thinking that Chris Ball has got the track record of pushing the sport into new areas, it is the EWS that has taken racing Tasmania and New Zealand, Chile and Argentina, while the World Cup's not done that since when?


Some people would love to go all over the world, but some teams wouldn't have enough budget for that. If everything costs more, who wants to double their expenditure for $3,750 prize money (minus taxes) for the win? I don't think it's fair for the riders to have prize money that low. If the company organising the series is making millions, it just doesn't add up. If the team managers have to increase their fees for space, registration, and everything, they have to have something in return. And the riders do too. That's something that maybe riders are reluctant to discuss because they're putting themselves at risk by taking that position.

This feels like the sport growing up in some ways, it was much more serious than in the past.


Yeah. A lot of different sports have that and it's only positive that everyone's happy. When riders turn up they’re stoked, everything looks professional, and it would be great.


264 Comments

  • 335 0
 "Downhill's prize money at the World Champs was split in two when e-bike was added to the program. No one asked anyone about this, and no one even knew before."

Release the Pinkbike hounds! That's ridiculous.
  • 4 23
flag Matt115lamb (Sep 5, 2022 at 1:05) (Below Threshold)
 Was this because of adding ebikes or just coincidental ?
  • 87 0
 It is ridiculous. And hugely disrespectful towards riders and teams.
  • 105 0
 Just outrageous. I'm expecting a battery of comments about this
  • 87 1
 No wonder DH is so secretive when it comes to contracts and prize money. The truth is probably embarrassing.
  • 9 1
 @TommyNunchuck: I wouldn’t say embarrassing, the main earners are pulling in extra sponsors such as energy drinks/bars etc clothing/protection/eyewear so gaining a healthy living however smaller teams yes I’d imagine do now struggle wage wise compared to years gone by when riders were pulling on reported 6 figure salaries.
I’m all fairness though our sport could be seen as the poor relation when looking at salaries of other sports such as football etc
  • 47 2
 Did they get more money when they ditched 4X racing? If not, who got the money then? Dick Pound?
  • 2 0
 @vinay: Just go to Monte Carlo and see for yourself.
  • 115 17
 It appears we have an official response from Chris Ball!

"Guys, come on, the money made from event sponsors, entry fees, pit fees, etc. will trickle down to the riders eventually, there's no need for a mafia-style union! Just look at the U.S. where trickle-down economics has lead to the greatest economy of all time! It'll happen eventually, you just gotta trust us, the multi-millionaire executives and organizers. We have the best interest of the riders at heart, I promise! The only reason we are making 100x's more than the riders is because we work 100x's harder to bring the riders and fans the best possible races and experiences. There's no need for a union, fellas. All you're doing is promoting socialism and hurting the fans! Be grateful! #livebikelove"
  • 18 0
 @commental: The UCI is guilty as charged.
  • 3 209
flag graniteandrew (Sep 5, 2022 at 6:44) (Below Threshold)
 Tbf the ebikes sell way way better, and can be pedaled….DH not so much. Keep at it and DH will be cut entirely. Which makes sense, it’s hardly a “bike” sport at all. Judged by views and live watchers…meh…All the people defending a bike that cant even get itself to the trails it’s made for, whilst crapping on ebikes…sure let’s have WC races without using lifts….moronic. Add to that demands for better pay and unionization…sure who wouldn’t want to burn money in that pit. you’d be better off running it as a charity because that’s all it is.
  • 64 0
 @graniteandrew: So you'd rather watch people racing ebikes than DH? What planet are you on?
  • 74 2
 @graniteandrew: this makes total sense! Because F1 cars sell so well, right?
  • 25 0
 @graniteandrew: This is honestly the shitest way to think about DH as a sport. You're American so what you think they should scrap NASCAR because you can't actually drive those cars on the road? DH is more in the idea of F1, the pinnacle of tech being pushed to the edge by these athletes that are training and pushing themselves to the edge to go faster and faster. Race is on Sunday buy it on Monday.
  • 13 0
 @graniteandrew: lol what a wild take.
  • 7 1
 Then they fine people for not showing up due to injury. Probably more than they would have gotten for a podium too.
  • 15 0
 If ebikes are strong and important as the UCI thinks it is then it should be self sufficient and not depend on other categories of two wheel sports.
  • 6 2
 @scott-townes:

Do you work for the Starbucks UnionBuster Dept by chance?
  • 23 3
 @bb8: Ultimately it's a motorsport, there's no getting away from it, possibly a paralympic one (I'm old and broken, so basically a little handicapped, and I have a Turbo Levo for that reason - e-bikers have to own the reality that it's not the same sport, or even cycling really, and therefore out of the UCI's remit).
  • 2 0
 Agreed! That is insane and totally unacceptable!
  • 1 0
 @McArdle: do you mean 7 figures. Sure a few of them still make multiples of 6 figures
  • 5 5
 It looks like the top riders are making slot of money from what you see on social media. Very expensive cars, owning planes etc. I’m not buying this idea that riders are badly paid
  • 2 0
 @pisgahgnar: F1 is a business with the organisers, teams and some drivers are making a lot of money. They also get shot of sponsorship from outside of car manufacturers. Something mountain biking is not very good at
  • 1 0
 @bb8: I’m sure ebike racing is because the manufacturers want it to Hagen and are prepared to find it for marketing reasons
  • 4 1
 @graniteandrew: Top Fuel Dragsters sell very poorly to the public. Yet it's all over my TV today $$$$
  • 17 1
 "Downhill's prize money at the World Champs was split in two when e-bike was added to the program. No one asked anyone about this, and no one even knew before."

Go f*ck your mother UCI

Imagine if a racer went to register and at the last minute said, nah, I had to split the cost of a room with my teammate last night. I can only pay half. Do you think they'd let them compete? Hell no!

UCI is greed and greed is cancer
  • 4 1
 @graniteandrew: wow, looking at your post history, I bet you're fun to hang out with. Is your brother bizutch?
  • 2 5
 @scott-townes: If this is really is Chris Ball's response where did you get it?
  • 2 1
 @Darknut: don't believe everything you find on the web. Paper - or in this case websites - take everything...
  • 2 1
 @Phipu: Oh I don't believe it lol
  • 160 1
 Massive respect to Emilie and Neko for taking on this responsibility, especially with their combined background of competing and organising races. Best of luck, you have the full support of the DH fans community!
  • 135 1
 Red Bull Hard Line World Series
  • 7 0
 I do think that is something that could be possible...in time.
  • 75 0
 Listening to the odd comment from Rob Warner the last few days talking about having plans for next year and they'll be back, I do think that Red Bull is seriously considering their own series
  • 20 0
 @Starch-Anton: take hardline, add the crankworx stops, add a dh in utah at rampage and theow in some ixs cup in schladming and you have season spanning 6-8 races series thats more or less there anyway…it just needs tge funding of rb media house to send tritscher and his team to do what tgey did those last years…i think the riders and teams would be stoked to join (unless uci punishes riders who take part in rivalling series, i thinh fis did this at some point in snowboarding…)
  • 3 0
 @skintightleather: FINA did the same with the swimmers but FINA lost the war fortunatelly
  • 4 2
 Kind of like LIV golf and the PGA.
  • 6 0
 Seriously, something needs to be boiled up. A competing series would be good for the sport if well organized and this seems like the right time
Plus, waiting till June for next season to start at the highest level is ridiculous - a 9 month lay-off?
  • 11 0
 @pcloadletter: I would watch LIV downhill World Cup if Rob is commentating…
  • 8 0
 @pcloadletter: Just thinking the same. All you need is a Minnaar to get pally with the Saudi prince.
  • 1 0
 @skintightleather: UCI already did this when FIM did the E-bike world champs...
  • 1 7
flag GZMS (Sep 5, 2022 at 10:33) (Below Threshold)
 @northernwig: doubt it.. more likely rob will just scramble some low cost social media patreon funded gig and compete with Cathro
  • 2 1
 @skintightleather: only if RB think there is enough profit to be made from it
  • 2 1
 @hayden: what we don’t know is why it’s only 8 races and such a long gap. What are the views of the teams? Do they want more races? Is the cost of going to more races round the world acceptable to them? Are there places who want to host and organise more races? I don’t know but there is much more to this than the uci is evil everyone else is an Angel
  • 2 0
 @naptime run by the athertons
  • 3 1
 @skintightleather: getting rid of the UCI as well seems like killing two birds with one stone to me. It's not like the UCI did much for the riders except fine them for not showing up after a concussion or Russia invading your country.
  • 1 0
 The way rob has talked, I can't help but think it is coming.
  • 101 0
 Biggest take-away I got from this interview is the shockingly small check of $3,750 (minus taxes) for a World Cup win. That's just ridiculous.
  • 6 1
 Honestly hard to believe - can anyone confirm if this is correct or a typo?
  • 22 0
 @whiteboarder: in 2017, it was 3,750 euros according to this article: mpora.com/mountainbiking/how-much-money-downhill-mountain-bikers-bmx-racers-make-uci. More interestingly though is that XCO prize money was identical, at least back then! Can you imagine Schurter standing there with a 3.750 check? No wonder they don't show any photos for that...
  • 62 0
 When Jenna Hastings got 3rd in junior women at one round (Several rounds, but this specific one was discussed on BK's vlog) her prize money was lower than the entry fee.
  • 37 0
 @whiteboarder:
Check the uci rule book, definitely not a typo xco and dhi identical at world cups: 3750, 2500, 1250 for 1-2-3.
4th-10th:
800, 600, 500, 350, 300, 250, 200€
  • 10 0
 Wow, just wow.
  • 5 0
 @commental: and they were picking it up in cash if you can believe it.
  • 15 0
 @HankDamage: Makes it look like a quick donation... Even Wyn has a big-ass check to give before giving the privateers some cash he gathered in between. Ridiculous
  • 9 0
 @emi008: It's just ridiculous. I knew there was not a lot of cash in MTB, but not to that extend. Shame on the UCI really.
  • 7 0
 @emi008: those numbers are ridiculously low...
Also, what are the typical deals riders have with sponsors? Salaries at least, or is it just some gear and race support and they are actually glorified privateers?
Curious to know what's it's like for the top 10 but also below, for men and women...
  • 4 5
 @hpman83: Do you want more expensive UCI licenses? Are you sure you are blaming the right entity?

Most of the money a road biker earn he gets it from his salary and I believe the prize money mostly come from the race organizer's sponsors, not the UCI.
  • 8 1
 Absolutely disgraceful. Not to mention the lack of increase over time, despite the sport growing and taking into account inflationary measures.
There seem to be a bunch of small issues adding up to big problems. I watched the final race in Val di Sole, when they were presenting trophies to 1st-3rd, and I thought, ‘How anti-climatic is this’? It is like they put no effort in at all. Not to mention the pathetic wood trophies they got
  • 7 18
flag tedchalk (Sep 5, 2022 at 7:52) (Below Threshold)
 riders negotiate a salary with their team. prize money is just a bonus. I don‘t get the fuzz. or am I missing something?
  • 5 18
flag GZMS (Sep 5, 2022 at 10:24) (Below Threshold)
 Well they do earn a salary. 6 figures for many of them. So who cares about the prize money really.
  • 29 0
 @GZMS: According to the poll in 2021 ( www.pinkbike.com/news/how-much-do-professional-mountain-bikers-get-paid-pinkbikes-state-of-the-sport-survey.html ) , of the 71 DH racers interviewed, only 8% earned a six figure salary in USD and 46.7% earned a salary of 0-5000 USD, so I think the prize money matters to alot of them actually.
  • 25 3
 @GZMS: many? Are u sure? come on let’s hear your sources i’m intrigued… i must have done smth wrong for 14 years i guess
  • 9 0
 @GZMS: Not sure about "many of them". Some of the top males for sure, but earning potential drops away pretty quickly as you go down the ranks. As for the women...
  • 3 11
flag chrismac70 (Sep 5, 2022 at 12:52) (Below Threshold)
 @mi-bike: prize money at an F1 gp is zero. Not a penny. Drivers earn salaries from their teams and sponsors just like dh riders. Olympic medalists get zero prize money. Prize money is not a measure of anything.
  • 3 17
flag chrismac70 (Sep 5, 2022 at 12:56) (Below Threshold)
 @iridewhatever: that was a very incomplete survey with no balance or real statistical accuracy. It told us nothing. You only have to look at the social media posts from riders to see that their lifestyle is compatible with being well paid, fancy cars, planes etc
  • 2 0
 You can't even buy a top end bike!
  • 7 0
 It is pathetic, but the riders earn most of their money from sponsors. Without the manufacturers and clothing/helmet sponsors, DH racing wouldn’t exist.
  • 1 0
 @chrismac70: driver doesn’t even keep the trophy usually
  • 3 0
 @chrismac70: Although their lifestyle may be compatible with fancy cars, except for the very top riders their income is not.
  • 5 1
 @tedchalk: I’ll agree, I wasn’t actually aware there was prize money at world cups. I mean I suppose that prize money comes from somewhere, either is race entries and license fees from the UCI. Or it’s from the venues charging admission or broadcasters charging to broadcast and putting profit into prize money.

Everyone here moaning about how it’s going to cost money to watch next year or to spectate. But yet moaning there’s no money in it. The same group are the folks looking for year end deals or buying online. Margin is what pays athletes.
  • 10 0
 @GZMS: In 2018 there was a top 10 EWS pro riding where I was living. Had a bunch of beers with him and he told me what he made. It was about what I made a bike shop mechanic. So 2/10ths of nothing. But his travel, bikes and consumables are obviously covered. Granted a bunch of years ago and I’m sure he’s getting paid better now. But it was for sure eye opening.
  • 5 3
 @emi008: not sure about you, dont know you, enlighten me.. but majority who have a realistic shot at winning WC are earning six figures.. if you arent in top 20, then yeah probably you dont get that salary, but then why do you care about the amount of prize money? isnt it better if instead of cheques to bruni those euros would get somehow spent on organising events or supporting grassroots or whatever else?
  • 1 2
 @iridewhatever: firstly, not 8%, but 10%, according to that survey… secondly, some declined to answer.. thirdly, how is the salary defined there? Team contract? Contract + major sponsors? All income?
  • 4 1
 @GZMS: No way everyone in the top 20 earns 6 figures. Not even close. Out of that list (pierron, vergier, iles, kolb, kerr, greenland, coulanges, gwin, hart, minnaar, daprela, hatton, walker, bruni, levesque, norton, suarez, trummer, brosnan, meier smith), my guess would be about 5-7 of them.
  • 2 5
 @mi-bike: again, define salary. Just a team contract? Yes, 5-7. Team contract+Redbull/monster+insta/youtube. Most are getting 6 figs eeeassyy.
  • 6 0
 @GZMS: insta/youtube does not give a whole lot if you don't have a huge channel and personal sponsors that give bonuses for it.
When it comes to Redbull i doubt that all of them get a whole lot. One of the reasons Redbull contracts are very valuable for the riders is the support they get in case of an injury. It's somewhat like their insurance.
When it comes to Monster Energy i have no clue, but i guess it's similar.

I personally would like to see them actually get paid wages according to their work. In the end, DH is a product development and testing circuit. My idea is that the riders get paid according to what they do for a brand. If someone is mostly working on new products - they e.g. get a 80% wage from R+D and 20% from PR.
I dont know what the contracts look like that Anna Newkirk and Abby Hogie have with Hostettler (Bixs). But they are basically doing development / testing for them. Same with every factory team...
  • 5 0
 @GZMS: Sir, I think you are incredibly delusional. In addition to that - "Those Euros spent on organizing events or supporting grassroots or whatever else" unfortunately its the "whatever else" which is mainly lining Dick Pound's pocket
  • 1 1
 @bmxbackground69: Dick Pound's pockets may be lined, but on this site he is a mere meme. He has nothing to do with the UCI.
  • 2 2
 @bmxbackground69: i think you are underestimating how things add up, and that you dont need millions of followers to make a good extra on youtube, as long as you upload frequently.. kerrs channel having less than 44k views per video avg just because of number of videos collected 560k views this month (and those vids will be there later collecting even more views), thats at least 5k per month income, but more likely up to maybe 7k or so.. so in a range of 60-80k per year, ONLY from youtube.. sure, hes one of those who takes it serious, but he doesnt do anything exceptional except of being consistent with his uploads.. others like moimoitv get 10-20k a year for zero cost production, filming on his phone and uploading whenever he feels like it… youtube and insta are hard if you are nobody.. if you have at least some kind of name recognition, you will be able to supplement your income.. and when they have 2-3 sources like that, plus their contract, yeah most in top 20 are getting 6 figures
  • 5 1
 @GZMS: Your 1st example is in the top 5, your 2nd not even in DH. Tell us how at least one of kolb, coulanges, daprela, hatton, walker, levesque, norton, suarez, trummer, and meier-smith, makes 6 figures.
  • 6 0
 @chrismac70: The top F1 teams earn $200M a year in prize money from the Formula One Management company in race/championship results. Total prize money distributed is just under half of F1's net profit.

Ever so slightly different from zero.
  • 4 0
 @GZMS: Nah, it was 8.3% for the downhill category which is what I said in my original comment: ( infogram.com/wage-comparison-between-xc-dh-enduro-and-slopestyle-1hzj4o389qz834p )... You probably just read the first graph which covers all disciplines. But yeah, some declined to answer....I was just quoting the data that was available to me via the poll.
  • 3 2
 @mi-bike: out of your list higher up, 11 have won a wc gold.. and usually multiple ones.. so these guys get 100k, no doubt. kerr we talked about, norton - has good instagram presence, plus he's american - 100k easy. a few other like suarez are also very marketable just not in the anglosphere.. and a few remain who do not get 100k, because they are just coming up the ranks, but at the same way there are others who due to circumstances fell out of top20 (e.g. brook) who still earn 100k+..

bruni, minnaar, gwin sit at ~500 probly.. vergier, pierron, brosnan, iles, maybe hart too, prolly ~200-300 mark, and the rest around 100-150
  • 11 0
 @GZMS: I worked as a world cup mechanic (admittedly quite a few years ago) for a big team. And those figures you are throwing around are off. Riders that have good selling power (Minnaar, Gwin) might just about be making that much now (i doubt it), but the drop off outside the chosen few is massive. I wouldnt be at all suprised to hear that plenty riders in the top 20 dream of getting $50k.

Team managers and riders dream of getting sponsors from outside of the cycling industry that have actual $$$$$$ behind them, but its hard to market towards big corporations when you only go racing 8 times a year. The actual amount of time riders and events are exposed to spectators is way to limited. Who wants to throw $400k at a rider for 8 four minute runs a year?

If the sport wants to grow financially (and therefore wages) then exposure needs to grow exponentially. Pay per view will never bring in money as the potential viewing figures are currently miniscule. For me, there should be 16 races, and every single second needs splashing all over youtube/insta etc,,, Once the viewing figures rise, then the big sponsors want in. Unfortunately, someone has to pay to get the ball rolling, and I've no idea how that gets done!!!
  • 2 0
 @Cord1: I agree with you that the drop off is likely massive but Gwin himself has shared that he pulled in 7 figures annually, during his top years.
  • 4 0
 @mi-bike: Yep, i remember reading that, and am sure that was combined earning from his other sponsors. Thats what selling power is, and thats what the other riders don't have, they rely totally on team wages. I was thinking more along the lines of just what the teams pay the riders. It's complex, and i can't see many riders being prepared to share what they earn, or who from.
  • 9 0
 @chrismac70: " You only have to look at the social media posts from riders to see that their lifestyle is compatible with being well paid, fancy cars, planes etc"

Ah yes, social media. The place I turn to to get a true representation of another persons life.
  • 3 0
 @mi-bike: Yes, but this is Gwin in his top years...
I'd doubt that someone like e.g. Benoit Coulanges, Dean Lucas, Vero Widmann or Eleonora Farina actually make enough to fully support racing and a "normal life". Despite being always in the mix.
  • 5 0
 @Cord1: most get paid squat because it’s all private. Hopefully this is on the agenda for the new union.
  • 2 0
 @mi-bike: That's Richard William Duncan Pound CC OQ CD QC OLY, to you, Sir.... Razz So....Dick Will Pound...
  • 3 1
 @Cord1: in the old age of yellow pages yes , situation was different.. now the marketing potential of those guys is x1000 from what it was before. The sport grew massively but also technologies changed. It is not race sunday, sell monday anymore. Now it is race well once or twice, establish some name recognition and branding, and then go around reminding everyone about that and milking the fame for 2 years to come. Strategy a-la kardashians. Widely adopted in politics, in business, and creeps into sports too. Especially by us/ca athletes. E.g. Courtney and Batty - lost somewhere midpack on the course and in the standings, but still get to do bike checks on PB and alike. Bike companies too are less about bikes and more about being a media company (eg Canyon, Santa Cruz, specialized).
As a result of all that, the outreach is not 8x4mins per year as you say, but 8mins per day.
  • 4 0
 @GZMS: BK Channel according to Social Blade. He isn't making what you think he is. socialblade.com/youtube/channel/UCOYc6SI_fVrNvoutot7D9IA

I think what everyone is talking about it the actual salary paid by their team. Not the ancillary sponsors that you can add to that salary. I am going to guess that you are way off with the riders that are making big money. What you term as 6 figures.

Jack Moir might be making a good wage, but I don't think it is all that you think it is. He signed with Canyon Cllctv after moving on from Intense, missing out on the other team. So he was signed late in the game. It was probably a one year deal as he was doing EWS more than downhill. He likely got a new contract after the 2020 season or the initial deal was a 2 year deal, and after being #1 last year they could have signed him for a longer deal and a bump in salary.

Here is his YouTube stats
socialblade.com/youtube/channel/UCd77cWCYmO6alSLXXRHMoqw

The sport needs more money to the athletes as in salary from teams, more money from sponsors, and higher purses to more people in the finals. They need more SAY in what is going on with the sport.
  • 3 0
 @bostondonmtb: Combined they are nowhere near Seth socialblade.com/youtube/c/sethsbikehacks

I have followed this thread over the last 24-36hrs, and all I can say is that GZMS is way off the mark, but fair play to him/her backing themselves, but nothing anyone else can say is going to change their mind.

Lets go ride bikes, yeah?
  • 1 0
 Yikes... just looked up a few other channels.. Seth out performs GMBN and is on par with Pinkbike. But if you want to talk about the MCU and Marvel stuff, you earn more than Seth, GMBN, Pinkbike, Bernard Kerr, and Moir, combined. If only there was a super hero mountain biker.... Maybe a French one...hmmmm.....
  • 2 0
 @handynzl: I'm not sure anymore, is he a superhero, or is he the pope?
  • 63 0
 I think that the biggest mistake that the UCI/Discovery are committing here is that they are putting out BARELY ANY INFORMATION AT ALL...

It might might not be the actual case, but it appears (at least from the outside) that UCI/Disc are closing their ears to riders opinions on the next season either because, worst case; they don't want to hear from them, or perhaps slightly better case; they are simply being naïve and assume that everyone will agree with the changes and it will all go off without a hitch. Either way, it reeks of unprofessionalism and is creating an unnecessary amount of speculation.

Completely understandably, this is causing outrage amongst the riders because they have no idea what is coming. In many ways it is a lot worse than UCI/Discoovery simplly stating: "Yeah, it will be Pay-per-view, top 30 riders, increased entry fees etc"...because with that, at least the riders will have had it confirmed to them, what they are dealing with next year and they can prepare accordingly. Right now, it appears they have no clue what is coming.

Giving zero information is so much worse than giving information that people disagree with and I can guarantee that if the UCI/Disc continue to withhold information, the worse it will get, and the larger the chance that riders will choose not to race...and I wouldn't blame them for that one bit.
  • 22 0
 It's because they know how badly received that information will likely be.
  • 23 0
 Also, imagine being a team sponsor and not even knowing what you're paying for next year!
  • 22 0
 @commental: If that's true, then their cowardice will only make it worse for themselves in the long run I think...

I'm a bit conflicted because whilst I massively respect both Greg & Myriam as riders, as UCI representatives I get the impression that they haven't been vocal enough to the other riders or the media about the plans for next year.

Maybe Greg/Myriam simply haven't had the time (or the platform) to provide the information, or they simply don't know what's going on themselves, or maybe they simply aren't allowed to say.

I understand that they have to "toe the (UCI) company line", but whatever the case; as a whole, the UCI have an obligation to provide the details on next year at least to the riders (if not us) like RIGHT NOW (regardless of whether it is bad or good).

If they don't provide the information soon, then the alternative is that they risk an exodus of all the privateers, and smaller teams who can't afford to rely on hearsay and we'll just be left with the the massive teams (Specialized/Trek/Commencal) who can afford to weather this period of uncertainty and the DH discipline will, to it's own detriment, become a castrated sport with no variety or real competition. This, in my view will draw in less viewers and in turn, will hurt Discovery's investment (hence why I say they are making it worse for themselves in the long run).

I don't want to not sound so "doom and gloom" about it, but as things currently stand, I have no reason (yet) to be cautiously optimistic, let alone excited about next year's season.
  • 24 0
 @iridewhatever: Greg and Myriam are established, well payed athletes who don't have to worry about breaking through the ranks. They won't have the same urge to push for ease of access for upcoming racers, which is what makes DH unique. Greg said that he's grateful that he's protected coming into next year (on wyn TV)
That says a lot
  • 11 0
 @housem8d:

Correct. When Greg was interviewed at Vallnord, he kind of dismissed the riders union and was like "it will all be fine".
  • 13 0
 @t-rick: He also appeared on the Discovery launch video. Make of that what you will.
  • 8 42
flag t-rick (Sep 5, 2022 at 6:29) (Below Threshold)
 @commental: yeah he is a corporate puppet getting big money behind the scenes. That is pretty shady honestly. Greg has to take care of Greg! Doesn't surprise me that he isn't married at 40 years old, but just dates 25 year old women who don't know any better
  • 26 2
 @t-rick: Um...wow..OK.

I don't think what Greg Minnar decides to do with his personal life has any bearing on this topic of conversation frankly. To be clear, I wasn't even suggest that he's withholding information from other riders on next year for his own personal gain. If that's how you are interpreting it then fine. but leave the dude's love life decision out of it yeah?
  • 18 1
 @t-rick: You can't blame the dude for looking out for his best interests. I'm not married at 55 and I wish I could get away with dating 25 year olds, so I'm certainly not dissing him for that.
  • 16 0
 @iridewhatever: I have caught from other interviews with riders that they believe Greg and Myriam are still heavily invested at competing at the highest level and don’t have the time or the will to give the rider representative role the backing it needs. Myriam was still vying for 1st place overall at Val Di Sole and Greg got catastrophically injured in practice - not exactly prime conditions for being representatives, especially given how fraught with uncertainty next year seems. I am not placing any blame on them, but the selection process needs to be overhauled
  • 1 0
 @housem8d: well said.
  • 44 1
 Chris Pound?
Honestly, this situation is really strange and suspicious, new WC organiser refusing interviews and not talking to athletes? Like they would be preparing something really nasty and trying to inform people as lat as possible, so they cannot do anything about it.
  • 42 2
 Dick Ball*
  • 3 1
 scenario that happend so offten the last two years.......
  • 20 0
 Agree. Chris Ball is sort of sketchy, I am not a fan. Don’t like hearing about losing the 5 person podium, don’t like shrinking the field, don’t like 10 women. Hoping things work out but not holding my breath.
  • 5 18
flag GZMS (Sep 5, 2022 at 10:44) (Below Threshold)
 @darkcanuck: 5 person podium is kinda stupid tho and devalues the medals.. participation medals have a similar vibe.. in most other sports it is top 3 , and in some it is top 1.
  • 14 0
 @GZMS: I feel like I should change my username to five person podium. I think it’s such a unique thing and helps promote teams and sponsors and is a much cooler sounding goal for a rider than top 5. Also way cooler to see 5 bottles of champagne popping mayhem than 3 during the presentations.

Anyway, whether you agree with it or not it is something unique to MTB and has a history at this level. In my opinion it would be a shame to lose that uniqueness.
  • 41 0
 Maybe all this DH WC thing becomes what the car rally world cup races actually are. Just a few heavily sponsored teams, with a handful of riders, traveling like a circus all over the world. Sad. Good luck to Emilie and Neko!
  • 35 0
 People compare it to F1 as it's the pinnacle of the sport. I think that's a dangerous comparison. Do we really want to end up in a situation where your dad has to be a millionaire for you to get a ride
  • 9 0
 @commental: MTB is more like rallying, whereas Road racing is F1.....Both the latter get the big money, and all the media coverage......
  • 2 0
 To do well in most sports now you have to have quite rich parents to start with , money breeds success in most cases @commental:
  • 1 0
 @flyingfox49: Sad, but true.
  • 23 0
 I'd heard about that concept before, Myriam and Greg being the official rider reps, and almost didn't really believe it. Just another hiccup in the maturing process of our sport. Can you imagine that situation for other sports, where the top athletes are expected to represent the entire sport essentially... And then also put their performance first and be chasing podiums.

It absolutely needs to be a 'non-rider', former rider maybe more accurate, and a collection of the top athletes. Not the literal 2 top athletes representing a field of over 100.

Going to be very interesting to watch how the season unfolds in a years time. Let's just say I'm extra looking forward to watching and supporting Hardline this year. Would love a potential expansion of that to go to more places than the EU/north america.
  • 9 0
 I'm not too sure if it's realistic for Neko to be doing it too? Isn't he part owner of Windrock, his own team (videos, bike development, sponsors, etc...) and a racer?!

I get that he's well spoken and has good business acumen but that's a lot on his plate!
  • 12 0
 @housem8d: Good questions - I am hoping to speak to Neko about this at some point too, so will ask him when I do.
  • 4 0
 @housem8d: yeah I'm wondering if there are any subtle implications about him taking that position. I think as long as you can put all those things aside on a race weekend, which is what most in the industry are doin in order to watch and support the races, then it works on. But so long as he's competing in the event... I can't say who specifically I'd put in his place but definitely someone able to basically be in a media jacket, not a jersey and on a bike.

It's possible Emilie is gonna do a lot more of the organizing/sorting/work and that Neko is going to be an effective filter for lets call in "on the track" discussion. And that's when a lot of real shit gets said. Some people are tight lipped around the pits, around the cameras, around officials... But yeah, on practice day away from squids and track officials... A lot more will be said by a lot of people. That's where you get that unfiltered info. Neko can absorb all of that and pass it on to Emilie. Definitely makes Emilies responsibilities with Pivot tougher.
  • 5 0
 @lepigpen: Yeah I could see that working. Considering that Neko isn't tied down by sponsor obligations as much as others; he is certainly more in a neutral position. And since Emilie probably (assuming) speaks french and a bit of german that goes a long way for dealing with language barriers. Anyways, the more people the info has to go through, the less clear/ meaningful it is.
  • 2 0
 @mattwragg: He did talk about the pressures on his time in the latest Downtime Podcast episode after the Val Di Sole race. He's going to be a very busy man! But can't think of a better rep.
  • 7 0
 @mattwragg: I would not be surprised if Neko was chosen partly because he is independent of the big teams and will not be influenced by their management.
  • 3 1
 @housem8d: he sold his stake in Windrock. But he does have his team, Kanuga, and the new shuttle service downhill park just around the corner from Kanuga coming soon! #riderockcreek
  • 1 0
 @pisgahgnar: #riderockcreek ?

Stoked to hear about this !
  • 2 0
 @pisgahgnar: I’ve heard rumors this was happening…what’s the timeline there?
  • 1 0
 @ridebikesyall: riderockcreek on instagram. Says “Shuttles coming soon…2022”
  • 19 2
 Think it's time to drop uci and break away completely! Like what happened with snowboarding being ran by skiers. We're being ran by a bunch of lycra wearing roadies of don't give a toss about mountain biking. Red bull dh series anyone!!! No more racing for the stripes tho.
  • 2 0
 In a recent Pinkbike interview, Rob Warner said he will be very busy in the coming months. Im curious if there is some new thing getting organized by Red Bull?
  • 7 0
 @t-rick: Rob does more than just the mtb world cup commentary for Redbull.

He has a few mtb "lifestyle" and "travel" shows on Redbull as well as commentating some moto events.
  • 2 0
 @casey79: Right. At the end of the Red Bull broadcast Rob mentioned "sometimes better to start over and from the ground up"

Something definitely is going on in my opinion
  • 16 0
 Do some reading about David Zaslav, the CEO of Discovery. I'm sure he's passionate about Downhill and will be very receptive to the concerns of a riders union. Or maybe not.

Seriously though, it's shocking how bad things are. People always say that DH is the F1 of mountain biking and it clearly isn't, it's a shambles with no money to grow or do anything new. Where is all the money?
  • 20 0
 The reason F1 has money is broadcasting. There is no money in DH/Enduro. Your average customer buying the bikes make far more than the riders putting their lives on the line here.

Discovery could open those taps. But man there’s gotta be some discourse to build the product into something better. Otherwise what is the point?
  • 5 0
 @bonfire: Yeah, most of the big money sports have mega money TV deals....Cycling simply doesn't warrant that money; there isn't the audience for it. I wish that wasn't the case...
  • 4 2
 DH is the F1 of MTB in terms of the speed. XCO is more popular and also more people ride XC bikes...
  • 16 1
 F1 is the worse comparison, that shit is the plague....Money and prestige does not equal true sportsmanship/ progress in society. I know this is such a broad take but people need to stop idolizing things that don't even come close to representing who they are.
  • 13 0
 Although it is not likely to happen in year one, I forecast that the WB/Discovery approach will be to go to the bike manufacturers (note not the teams as most are independent operations) and sell them team franchise spots in exchange for high profile media coverage. Most likely it will be bundled as a combined DH/XC/EWS package. It will be up to the manufacturers to fill the spots. XC and EWS will drive the manuafacturer participation as they are both where the bike sales come - DH looks impressive to watch but sadly does not drive high volumes - I would not be surprised to see brands like Commencal and Intense become white label DH suppliers for brands who are largely XC and Enduro driven and have to have a DH entry.

If the current Top 30 say no and refuse to race at any point, those spots will be filled very quickly by the next level down who will see this as their only opportunity to win a WC. As much as most of us in the comments section will claim loyalty to our favourite riders and refuse to watch, most will suck it up. Add in that the existing core is not what WB/Discovery/UCI are after - they want to attract a differnent, new consumer base - one that will spend money, hopefully at full retail, on their direct to consumer websites in the way that motorsport and football fans do - none of them do it, they just watch, they consume product - be it Pay per view or merchandise representing their favourites - we the dirty downhillers are not who they want

People keep comparing it to the F1 situation but are actually looking at the wrong comparison - instead look at the income model - 99% of F1 viewers do not actually race cars even at the most basic club level - they just spend a lot of money watching (in person or via media), buying the tat and believing that any of the circus is actually more meaningful than any other TV show.
  • 3 3
 As someone who is in the same industry as discovery a lot of what was written about him is scaremongering. He inherited a stinkin turd that was HBO ruined by a lot of bad decisions and overspending by AT&T so now he is making cuts.

Not that it means he cares for the sport. He doesn't. His goal is to make the company profitable. I doubt MTB rights are even an important acquisition for discovery.
  • 2 2
 @bonfire: do we need more money in the sport tho?
  • 4 0
 @spaced: The prize money is appalling, we get less than 10 races a year and the teams can barely afford to leave Europe. Yes, I would say that there's a lot of stuff to spend extra money on.
  • 5 0
 @spaced: Discovery has a reputation of being cheap in everything they do. They have already started making cuts on the production side of things for some of the big money sports they inherited with this merger (think NBA, MLB and NHL broadcasting in the US, big $$$$ there). They don’t care about the actual sports, they only care about putting a mediocre product out there for as cheaply as possible because they know someone will pay for it because there is no alternative.
  • 5 0
 @Puddings: I do wonder if the target market will become someone who'll watch for 20-30 mins whilst channel hopping because they already have a Sky Sports package, instead of a product aimed at the riding community.

In which case, what do they care what we think?
  • 10 0
 @Puddings: For most brands in DH, the aim isn't to sell DH bikes specifically, it's to raise the profile and prestige of their brand so that people choose their brand regardless of what travel bike they're after. Think Danny Hart on Cube, Cube aren't hoping to sell many DH bikes buy they are hoping to sell a lot of e bikes. I also can't imagine the demo sales justify the existence of the Specialized DH team but knock stumpjumper, status, and endure sales might. I will never buy a DH bike but DH is the only mtb discipline that I am ever likely to follow closely and nake the effort to watch live and I imagine that I am pretty typical of mtbers
  • 2 0
 Maybe David Zaslav suspects the frenchies only took the World Champs podium thanks to a home turf advantage.
  • 1 1
 @bonfire: I very much doubt the top 20 Earth less than those buying the products. You have to remember that not all the drivers on the F1 grid are paid to drive
  • 1 1
 @TommyNunchuck: There is no prize money at the Olympics. There is no prize money in F1 for the drivers. There is no prize money in soccer for the players from the competition organisers
  • 2 0
 You ask where is all the money? When we all know nobody pays to watch downhill world cups, there is no broadcast money. F1TVPro is a pay tv service which provides income for Formula one.

I'd love to know how the UCI actually makes money, living in NZ I've never been to a race but are fans charged entry fees? Obviously they have sold rights to discovery now but prior to that?
  • 5 0
 @JNZ: Venues have to pay the UCI to host races, Teams have to pay a registration fee, I would imagine privateers also have to. Rider fines seem to be on the increase. There are probably various other revenue streams. You usually have to pay to spectate, but I'd guess that's more likely to go to the hosts, many of whom also need financial help from their country's tourism boards to cover costs, they often run at a loss.
I've heard that mountain biking costs the UCI more than they earn out of it. That may be true, I don't think there's as much money in this sport as some people seem to. I also wonder how much gets blown on bureaucracy.
  • 2 0
 @chrismac70: Do you think some riders should pay their teams to race like they do in F1?
  • 2 0
 @Puddings: that is such a well articulated, and slightly concerning point, you make. Unfortunately that sounds like a scarily possibly prediction for the future of the sport
  • 1 0
 @commental: Agree, the sport looks flashy from the outside but I believe the only ones really making money out of it are the sponsors, manufacturers and the very top level of riders.

Whatever happens I'm pleased we had 12 years with redbull and considering I didn't pay a cent to watch it, the $$ vs reward ratio is massive.
  • 1 0
 @spaced: I mean fair question. I’m sure riders would like to make more money for the risk they take, the dedication and time.

But I’m always a little wary of people who go so deep into careers without understanding the pay packet.
  • 14 1
 A couple thoughts-
1. It's fantastic this discussion is happening.
2. The union should include all prior year world cup riders. Starting the union with less than 20% of the male elites and less than 30% of the female elites isn't rider representation. The union should represent all World Cup riders. The interests of the tippy top of the field are not necessarily the same as the majority.
3. Mandatory track design input from a mix of male and female riders. MSA is a great example...the last jump was cased by all but 3 female riders and its been like that for years. Extend the landing back 6 feet and there's no issue and it's still the same for the men.
4. If you want to grow women's participation then increase the finals number to 30, still half of the men's. Require every uci dh team to have at least one woman. 20 uci dh teams currently have zero women.
5. The price money is ridiculous. $3750...insane. Ski World Cups pay $20,000-75,000 for first place. Kitzbuhel World Cup super G pays $76k, $38K, and $19k for first through third.
  • 9 0
 The ski world cups are televised on NBC and Eurosport to 100's of millions of homes.

These numbers give FIS and event hosts the ability to charge mainstream sponsors top dollar to sponsor the events which flows through to the athletes.

In 2019 Redbull had a total viewership across all world cup DH and XC events of 10million (with XC having the majority). This could easily be eclipsed in one world cup under Discovery.
  • 4 0
 Money just doesn't grow on trees. UCI has to pay for timing people, officials, and apparently a helicopter on standy for some races. I am mad the pay is so low too. But it has to be expensive to run an entire race weekend.
  • 6 0
 @t-rick: under the current structure event organizers roughly commit around €50,000 (UCI fees of €32,500 for a single event (DHI or XCO) or €37,500 for a double event (DHI & XCO), racecourse build, parking and infrastructure) to host a race weekend.

The UCI doesn’t just take the money and ask the organizer to do the rest. A huge factor here is that the UCI provides as part of this package, the TV production, which is around €250,000 for a DHI or XCO event, and €400,000 for a double. They release 50 percent of the marketing rights to the organizer, provide some officials and the on-site commentators, as well as all the timing services. Which is a massive chunk of the budget sorted. In addition, organizers keep all revenue from gate ticket sales, food and beverage licenses and merchandising.
  • 9 0
 @casey79: The problem is, people want Corporate Money but no Corporate involved. I would love to see what the viewing figures and prize money were previously from the early days of Mountain Biking in the 90's and 00's when big corporate's like Grundig, Tissot and Diesel sponsored the Race Series. These race series were also broadcast on Eurosport lets not forget.
  • 3 1
 @casey79: agreed and think about that - skiing which has significantly less Worldwide participation than cycling has more funding and better broadcast deals. How do we make that connection between the excitement of the events and general viewership worldwide?
  • 1 0
 @Istillneedstabilisers: I don't think there was that much money. Sponsors look at the investment/return. It might still be more effective to do many small cheap investments each of them having a okayish return than a huge investment and a medium return.
  • 2 2
 #2 is a very valid point. Easy to dismiss a union which does not unite most of the riders.
  • 5 1
 @freezeus: Poor comparison - Skiing has less participation than cycling, but the majority of people who ski HAVE TO go to a commercial resort in order to do it. They have to buy lift passes. They have to stay in hotels. They have to spend thousands of dollars in the bar on apres ski (ok they don't have to but they do anyway). Cycling which you can do anywhere is a very different proposition. Even in the major all year round lift areas like PdS the economy is completely based around what happens in winter. The fact that they now get summer bike tourism too is a bonus, but on its own it wouldn't keep the lights on, let alone make decent money. That's why the sport of skiing is so much better funded, especially in terms of prize money provided by hosts.

In terms of broadcasting it has 2 major advantages - first it's more photogenic. It's a beautiful sport to watch even if you know nothing about it. Second, it's a fantastic form of escapism when you're sat at home in the cold and rain in the middle of January with nothing else to do except sink into axle deep mud.
  • 11 0
 I think riders realize that poor as the comms were, they were at least dealing with known entities in Red Bull and the UCI. Now they have a very limited understanding of where things are going. I for one am surprised that the UCI thinks they can grow and/or monetize the sport to a greater extent. To do that they have to increase viewership and I think that no matter how many channels show WC racing, its still going to be a niche sport for enthusiasts, most of whom ride bikes and relate to the discipline on a personal level. Unlike the average F1 or football fan. EWS coverage is average and the sport doesn't lend itself to live coverage. The presenters make a big difference and I can't see myself enjoying the new guys nearly as much as Rob and co. The late start to the season and the triple header events don't bode well for great coverage IMO.I hope this union has the desired effect and riders rights both financially and from a safety perspective are protected to a greater extent.
  • 3 16
flag mattwragg (Sep 5, 2022 at 3:37) (Below Threshold)
 Genuine question: over the years, there have been many vocal voices in the comments wanting the UCI out of DH, so they are getting what they always wanted, yet those voices seem to be amongst the most sceptical of the Discovery deal, which I don't get.
  • 30 0
 @mattwragg: but the UCI are not getting out of DH - they are simply licencing it to a new partner
  • 2 0
 @mattwragg: The status quo seemed to be working for most (UCI, RedBull, teams, brands, sponsors, riders, viewers, etc), or was at least a decent starting point for "organic" changes, like rider union for example. Granted it seems that the overall economics/marging for growth weren't fully clear (opinion, not fact). Could the sport afford races in more continents, etc...

But the new starting point is largely up to Discovery and it seems from the interview that no one really knows what they're up to. The wait is making everybody nervous.
  • 13 0
 "No, we're not talking to anyone at the moment."... at least they're being honest about that!
  • 14 0
 Union Strong
  • 9 0
 Within the next month (probably sooner) there will be an interview with someone from discovery on pink bike, saying how sorry about the less than perfect communication but they are excited about the future bla bla bla slick marketing wank
  • 8 0
 To me EWS got boring years ago,maybe when the actual owner took over the series. Now it is like a "rally car event" quoting some other comments and I agree.
DH WC has by far the best atmosphere and riders are open to talk whatever they like,it is really easy to be a fan of DH.
That is a big factor to me on why DH races are on top of anything else,cos the people ridding is lovely and accessible by anyone,not just the dude of the company talking the same boring questions over and over.
  • 10 2
 Looks like PB comments sections are populated partly by 1-percenters that never need to work for a living since they're so against union. Newsflash: if you need to sell your labor in order to eat/clothe/house yourself, you most likely need a union too.
  • 7 0
 Whilst I like Martin Whitely and acknowledge what he's done for the sport, I found it an alarming listen when he was on the downtime podcast.
www.downtimepodcast.com/martin-whiteley-part-two
My understanding is he's in a consultancy role for ESO. He claimed Discovery wouldn't schedule WC and EWS races on the same weekend, when Chris Ball had already publicly commented that they would be doing exactly that.
He also advocates a 3 tier race series along the same lines as the rumoured 30 rider limit. At the same time he represents Brook Macdonald under 23 Degrees. Given Brook's qualifying results this year and the damage not being in the big show would likely do to his sponsorship situation, how is this not a conflict of interests?
I think it's great the riders are getting together to provide a voice that can't be ignored. More power to them.
  • 17 0
 Whitely also talks about how much money is involved in putting together a good team capable of gaining results.
And it's a lot of money. Really I had no idea the sort of numbers involved.

Bernard Kerr, in a recent podcast with Dean Lucas was also very outspoken about the prize money situation. Redbull hardline pays the winner £15,000, and yet just 3750€ for a uci dh win. That's laughable.

British Downhill series category winners barely win enough to cover their entry costs...

Seems the discovery/eso contract is all about creaming the money out the series
  • 1 0
 @earthwormjim007: sounds just like what Giuseppe Luongo did to the mxgp series : pay to ride , small gates and less prize money !
  • 6 0
 @earthwormjim007: I'd love to know what Max Commencal thinks about potentially being around 120,000 euros a year worse off if team registration cost rumours are true.
  • 4 0
 @earthwormjim007: and of people have been paying attention to articles on Pinkbike they would see the pattern. I don't have the specific articles to link, but there have been more than a few detailing the large multi national corporation buyouts of bike brands and wholesalers in the last year or so. The past few years have seen a huge increase in bike sales (recreation, MTB, ebike, commuter ebikes) and such massive corporations are looking to cash in. It is not too much of a stretch of the imagination to see this as an extension of that trend...
  • 1 0
 Just to clarify - the Martin Whitely interview took place before the calendar was released.
  • 2 0
 @thingswelike: OK, it wasn't Chris Ball who said it, but In the announcement video Discovery put out about taking over coverage, Andrew Georgiou (MD of WB Discovery Sports Europe) talks about their plans to bring events together. Chris Ball was part of that presentation, you can't tell me he wasn't aware of those plans. I can't remember the date it was released, but I put a link to it in the Chris Ball AMA on the 14th June, way before either the podcast or calendar release.
www.eurosport.com/mountain-bike/exciting-uci-and-warner-bros.-discovery-partnership-to-showcase-uci-mountain-bike-world-cup_vid1696243/video.shtml. @9.20 if you're interested.
  • 7 0
 Marrin whitely said that the hike in entry fees with discovery is because they 'could' include marketing or other extras. I could never understand why Ews videos are so short,they have people out filming but you only get a 7 minute youtube video, where you only see certain riders, and when you get the top ten result on the screen they only mention certain riders, Well, I was told by a top 20 rider that if you want to be shown on Ews coverage, or even mentioned in the results, you have to pay for it, this is probably the 'marketing' that Whitely was on about. So entries could be a Tiered price structure depending on if you just want to race, or if you want coverage too.
  • 2 6
flag chrismac70 (Sep 5, 2022 at 13:13) (Below Threshold)
 You don’t think it’s been coincidence that for the last few years only RB sponsored riders ever got interviewed
  • 6 0
 @chrismac70: Did you watch this week when they had Pierron in the booth? Or all the times they've interviewed Minnaar, Hart, Brosnan, Kerr, Balanche, Hoffman, how many more should I list?
  • 10 0
 I hope Emilie is getting paid for this work.
  • 7 0
 Exactly. I remember talking with her and other female racers on lift in Whistler and I was pretty shocked she told me she´s not getting paid for racing and the sponsors mostly provide only gear even for top riders in women field (except Rachel in that time), no salary.
  • 8 2
 Pinkbike Reader Poll:

Would you subscribe to watch World Cups in 2023?

YES increased viewership leads to increased sponsorship dollars, prize money and wages for the riders.

NO I want something for nothing but then act outraged that riders prize money and wages are so low.
  • 6 2
 Spot on. Complain about the low pay, but then become outraged at the thought of having to pay for the product.

I mean where do people think the money comes from to pay mainstream athletes tens of millions per year? The vast majority comes from people paying to watch the games, either from buying a ticket to watch live or through paying for the cable package that broadcasts to games.
  • 2 0
 @sino428: I don't think the money I give to Discovery will be paying the athletes.
  • 6 0
 A death at a world cup occurred in 2014 due to course design. In this case, a wooden roll-over with an unexpectedly steep transition on exit in XCE. Annafleur went over it too quick and ...tragedy.

www.cyclingnews.com/news/kalvenhaar-dies-after-crash-at-meribel-world-cup

Riders union should be referencing that example. Not sure why it hasn't been brough up?
  • 3 1
 I imagine very few would know about this, much less today's DH riders (maybe someone like Greg would know since he has been around so long). Eliminator is a strange thing - I can't think of many (if any) XCO riders ever doing XCE. Just a niche side show, which is why this may not be widely known about.

The question would be, "what was done about the courses thereafter?". Are todays courses better, of have they fallen back to how they were in 2014 and this death?
  • 3 0
 @handynzl: it's weird. XCE was scheduled along with the other disciplines for that weekend, so there's a chance that some current riders would have literally *seen* it happen. The wooden feature was also in the XCO race, ridden by Neff, Rissveds, PFP, et al.

Neff - who won - actually cased her front wheel *hard* on the last lap and neary went otb. Most of the riders had "Ride For Fleur" signs and flowers on their bikes for a few races afterwards.

totalwomenscycling.com/news/tragedy-overshadows-triumph-final-uci-mountain-bike-world-cup-meribel

I do agree that the question about safety post-meribel is the important one...and weirdly absent from discussion and online searches.
  • 3 0
 @handynzl: Before XCC and when XCE was run alongside XCO weekends, a fair number of XCO racers actually did XCE... Litscher, Gaze, Rissveds, Neff, etc, all participated.
  • 4 0
 This initiative will either succeed or fail based on the team support of their riders in voting for changes or not to ride. Will be interesting to see if the big names stand behind their riders decisions, especially if they decide to boycott. We will then see if DH is united or not. I hope they do and I hope that the right changes (especially safety and format) occur. The current comms are concerning however.
  • 6 0
 I don't know if it can succeed unless you are truly representing the needs of all riders. If membership is limited to 30 men and 10 women then that's like having a union in a workplace where membership is limited to the management team. The union has to include all riders or it won't succeed.
  • 8 4
 Neko is like the man that I aspire to be one day. Started his own program, is designing his own bike, badass world class rider, always up lifting his community in the US, and now is representing the riders in the UCI. What a guy! #Legend #Imnotgay..butifiwashedbemytype lol jk
  • 5 0
 I know downhill has been the main concern, but has there been any info/ speculation on changes coming to XCC/XCO? I’m definitely a bigger fan of downhill but do enjoy XC as well and I haven’t heard anything
  • 3 0
 That is a great question. Since it is the more popular and possibly mainstream event, maybe it will remain largely untouched? I love DH way more than XC, but in reality I could see more viewership with the XC side.
  • 1 0
 I am a fan of both sides of the sport and would also like to heard what is happening with XCO/XCC next year as well as what is happening in DH. In all this the people I feel most for are the small teams and privateers will the big corporation push out the little guy/girl?
  • 2 0
 @t-rick: that’s kind of the impression I’m under, I feel like Pinkbike would’ve reported any rumors. And it’s a pretty friendly event as is for TV so I don’t know if any tweaks will be made. It bums me out that one side seems to be just fine and then the DH guys and girls are getting screwed.
  • 5 0
 DH will never be a priority for UCI and country federations because it is not an Olympic sport. DH does not need to be an Olympic sport. Best for riders to break away and start a non-UCI series.
  • 10 4
 Just here to remind everyone not to give Discovery a penny to watch the DH.
  • 7 3
 Why? It’s mindsets like this that are the reason the wages are so low and why the sport is in a precarious position. If you want a great product and if you actually care about the sport, you’d be willing to spend a little money, especially if it means the riders get paid a little better.

the average rider in these comments is likely spending hundreds every month just to keep the bike running but we’re all having aneurysms over the idea of spending a few bucks to support the DH racers we so badly want to see paid more fairly.
  • 3 1
 @Kayco: What makes you think Discovery will be giving any of that subscription fee to the riders?
  • 6 2
 @commental: I’m not saying they will. Especially not directly. But if people want to see the riders paid better, the money has to come from somewhere.

Maybe discovery figures out how to funnel more money into the sport, and maybe it’s through a subscription or pay-per-view. Or maybe they don’t. I don’t know. Maybe we give them a chance?

I’m just saying it gets old seeing people gripe about the possibility of having to pay them turning around and expressing their disappointment and surprise with the salaries and winnings available to the riders.
  • 3 0
 No disrespect to Neko and Emily, but I hope the Riders have the right people representing them. You need to have a f*cking bit bull to deal with UCI and Discovery interests. No easy job, even for someone that does that for a living.
  • 3 0
 People are comparing DH WC to F1. If that is the case, the major push for auto racing safety started early in the 70s.

Quite frankly, I've been speechless seeing some of the blatant bad designs on the tracks - both for DH and XC. It's one thing with features that riders are attacking, but the not so obvious bridge entry/exits, fence posts, spectating areas, and so on.

Might be that my imagination is too vivid. Good to hear they are finally putting their feet down.

Oh, and I'd happily pay handsomely if RB were continuing their broadcasts like before. The entire household is glued to the screen for XC and DH, and RB/Rob is a hard act to follow.
  • 3 0
 If downhill really takes a dive next year. people like chris ball will have a very hard time anywhere downhill fans recognise him. ignoring riders and thereby also what the fans expect of the sport to be will result in massive negativity. for discovery, eso, uci but especially people that are well known by the fans. better take it very seriously eso/chris etc.
  • 4 1
 What a dire outlook. Downhill needs a whole new series that they control from the outset with the support of sponsors who know a thing or two about such events. Red Bull was doing ok. Discovery? No thanks.
  • 4 0
 The craziest things is the riders still ride worldcups. If everyone changes over to IXS or some other cup surely, that would be the new highest level of DH?
  • 1 0
 IXS-Crankworx-Redbull collaboration!
  • 2 1
 That’s because they are paid to by there sponsors WHO’s interests are far wider than just DH. Why would trek giant specialised cube etc be interested if it’s not governing body sanctioned? You only have to see how few of the top riders race crankworx or hardline to see hire little interest there is in them
  • 2 0
 After watching Dean Lucas' interview with Bernard Kerr (one week after Snowshoe), and hear them talk so early on about the rider's union, Discovery, rider advocacy, etc. this announcement is very timely. That Emily is so closely associated with Kerr's knowledge and background regarding the behind the scenes stuff, bodes well for riders having a voice in the circus. Interesting interview if you've not yet seen it>>> youtu.be/SqtiIqj0dy0
  • 2 0
 One thing I never understood is how it works with insurances for the riders. I know that Mille Johnset had some issues in this regard after her crash in Lenzerheide a couple years back. I think in a podcast or so Camille was also talking about this, that insurances usually don't cover DH race / training crashes.
This is something i really don't understand, that this isn't something the riders demand in their contracts. But the way neater way would be to make the health insurance for the days from track walk to finals part of the registration fees.

I looked at a risk sport insurance myself, but damn it's expensive...
My guess is, that if an insurance company knows that, together with EWS, 16-20 times a year, a couple-100 people will make such an insurance, that it might be cheaper. Also, I would like to see factory / pro teams paying insurance for their riders for the full contract period...

Maybe @emi008 can shed some light onto this topic and how it works at the moment...? Thx!
  • 5 0
 We are hoping you can all act as one. Riders stay strong!
  • 5 1
 I love to hear about all of the unionization efforts lately. Workers of the world unite!
  • 2 1
 Yes! Always remember we're in a global CLASS WAR!!
  • 2 1
 I can't shake the feeling that this is the end of DH as we know it & possible the end of UCI DH period.

If the top 20 racers refuse to race because the UCI & Discovery won't take them seriously & meet their very reasonable demands that could be the end.

Don't get me wrong I'm behind the racers 100%. The only reason we are in this situation is greed on the UCI's part.

Red Bull could still push the UCI out completely if they just have the will to do it.
  • 1 0
 Top riders aren't going to strike and refuse to race...they are on team contracts and realize that could terminate their source of income. More than likely riders are just going to bend over and take whatever changes come, good or bad.
  • 1 0
 @Jamminator: I think the teams are behind them in this
  • 4 1
 How many exotic locations have the EWS visited since they went under the UCI umbrella?
  • 4 0
 Write off the 2020 through to 2022 series due to COVID travel restrictions. Before then they have been to either NZ/Australia one year then Sth America the next.

2020, 2021 and 2022 where supposed to have either Sth American or Australian/NZ rounds but they where canceled. Hence the Euro and Nth American centric series

Now travel restrictions seem to be a thing of the past for the majority of the world 2023 there are 2 EWS rounds in Australia to start the series.
  • 1 0
 @casey79: TBF I don't really regard Australia or NZ as exotic. Not in the same way as Chile anyway. I'm also surprised when ESO announced next year's calendar that they aren't going to Nelson, considering the 2 races in Tasmania and everything already being in place there for a round.
  • 2 0
 Would be interesting to do some comparison on how similar things(riders representation on decision making) are done with road biking side?
  • 2 1
 Not well at all. Because of chronic discontent with one union, there are now two. See also here: cyclingtips.com/2018/09/the-secret-pro-were-unionizing-against-the-union cyclingtips.com/2020/11/newly-formed-riders-union-hopes-for-a-place-at-the-table

Recent discontent was about hot and cold weather protocols as well as dangerous finishes.
  • 1 1
 The same Chris Ball who was a rider rep for the UCI for years and who rode a course in his pants with the word "PANTS" written on his chest...

I am surprised that he's not more on board with all this (and I know Chris and have done for the past 25 years!)
  • 2 0
 Descent World? There's a name from the past...
  • 2 0
 I want to know more about the pants please?
  • 2 0
 @Cowherd: course was shit, at Calgary from memory but I could be wrong.

Chris was racing the WC and rode it in his pants with PANTS written on his chest in protest at the poor track.
  • 1 0
 @mattwragg: yeah its kind of dead now sadly but I liked my handle and much like Superfly Si Paton defected here... We met many moons ago at EWS Innerleithen, I was on my 97 Heckler with Judy DH's - you and Tim Flooks had a great laugh at that!
  • 4 1
 The same man who would've only qualified for 5 WCDH races throughout his DH career if it was a 30 rider final. Nice.
  • 2 0
 @Craigatdescentworld: It's Si who originally got me started here too - I did my first mtb writing with DW, then SDH, then PB... Haha, that sounds like me, but my memory for those events was always atrocious, sorry - I feel like I have the shape of that memory there, but can't get the detail... Fair play for running Judy DHs though.
  • 2 1
 Maybe if we had a riders' union for downhill in the early 1990's, when it was truly a big money circus, things would be more equitable today. The time is NOW to plant the flag.
  • 3 4
 The UCI looks familiar to football’s UEFA (also French) and the FIFA. Just as corrupt! Would
Love to see Redbull joining forces with some names in the bike industrie and create their own events, just like Crankworx… Then we can keep seeing Rob and Claudio to!
  • 1 0
 The uci is Swiss not french
  • 2 0
 Uefa is in Nyon, FIFA in Zürich and UCi in Aigle. So all of them are in Switzerland - unfortunately...
  • 1 0
 I think it's great that the riders organizing and putting in place a structure to reach consensus as a group. Without that, "rider rep" is a label with little meaning.
  • 3 0
 UNION STRONG! Boycott union busters.
  • 3 4
 Listening to the latest downtime podcast it seems to me that loic has a lot to say and wants a lot of change but isn’t willing to do the work himself, like volunteering neko go go on the uci track walk instead of himself
  • 5 0
 you can only get involved as a rider when youre either not riding anymore or you dont see yourself in the top competitor range. I think neko is perfect, if loic or finn or even gwin would get involved too much, questions about personal goals or preference to something would arise
  • 2 0
 Iam glad something like this is happening. Good luck Emilie!
  • 2 0
 A June start is a joke - 9 month off season? Any other sport do this???
  • 1 0
 Discovery takes it all .... I find it correct to prepare for the unknown
  • 1 0
 Good for them, they're the show so they should have a say.
  • 1 0
 Rob should represent the riders!
  • 1 0
 Book Macdonald
  • 11 1
 ... for your next event, or
  • 3 0
 @mi-bike: Bar mitzvah
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