Money. Cycling. When thinking of the sport at the professional level, the two are undeniably intertwined. Top athletes today draw multi-million-dollar contracts and the biggest bike brands pour many times that into the sport’s top teams each year.
In the March issue of Velo, we expose the financial realities of cycling, exploring the constraints the sport faces year after year on both the individual and team levels. The infrastructure of running a team, or a race such as the Tour de France, which is worth an estimated $1 billion, is enormously complicated. The disparity in the sport is shocking, with many elite riders unable to depend on their racing careers as a sustainable way to live. Seemingly every aspect of the sport becomes a game of financial survival.
In “Rolling in the Deep,” Andrew Hood explores what it costs to run a pro cycling team — and the answer is not a simple one. Many teams are apprehensive about sharing their budgets, but some of the numbers will surprise you as we determine what it costs to field a Tour de France franchise.
Greg LeMond was cycling’s first $1 million man. The American’s relationship with outspoken team boss Bernard Tapie ended poorly, but the Tour de France champion broke through a salary ceiling in a time that few Americans were even paying their mortgages through bike racing. Ryan Newill details the contract that made LeMond the talk of the peloton in “Money Men.”
Matthew Beaudin reminds us, again, of the shocking disparity between cyclists and other professional athletes in “Racing From the Bottom.” Not everyone toeing the line at professional races is making a living wage. Some riders in the U.S. are bringing in well below minimum wage, in fact, and doing so for the love of the sport.
Steve Maxwell gives us an inside look at the trials and tribulations of sponsorship in “Your Name Here.” Unlike many of the world’s major sports leagues, cycling relies almost exclusively on sponsorship to keep the show going. How does this tenuous environment impact the sport’s health and how do teams survive on the ever-revolving carousel of corporate backers?
In American sports, player agents are superstars in their own right. In “Show Them The Money,” Mark Johnson explores the growth of agents in cycling, and the reasons some riders still don’t employ dealmakers.
Andrew Hood’s evocative feature, “The Art of the Deal,” is about winning races — that’s what bike racing is all about, after all. In our sport, winning sometimes comes with a price tag. Though buying races doesn’t happen as often as it once did, Hood details a number of business transactions that have taken place on the road.
In Tech, we take a look at the workshop of expert framebuilder Dario Pegoretti, through an excerpt from The Elite Bicycle from VeloPress. We also pit a collection of mini-pumps against each other to see which is worthy of our Editor’s Choice award. The winner is a clear one, and should find its way into your arsenal soon.
A constant struggle persists between aerodynamics, power, and comfort. In Training, Trevor Connor examines the benefits of equipment, positioning, and yes, simply training. When it comes to tricking the wind, money isn’t always the answer.
Find all this and more in Velo’s March 2014 issue, available on newsstands or in the Apple iTunes store.