Technical FAQ: The environmental impact of bicycle races

What is the environmental impact of a ProTour race?

Dear Lennard,
With all the team vehicles, fuel, electricity, and water? consumption, what is the carbon footprint of an average ProTour team at a Grand Tour?

Dear Michael,
I’ll let you calculate that, as I don’t know how to do it. I would imagine that on average each of the 22 teams has five station wagons with roof racks full of bikes, one bus and one truck, all of which drive an average of 200km per day. Then of course there’s laundry, food, lodging, etc. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg compared to the entire race itself. Think of all of the transport of race barriers, grandstands, concessions, start village, etc., not to mention transport and lodging of the fans, publicity caravan, media, organizers, etc. Big footprint.

But if you’re interested in environmental impacts of the race, nothing grates me more than team mechanics who continue to use diesel fuel to clean bikes, spraying it and dumping it in parking lots of, for example, seaside hotels along the Lido di Jesolo in the days before the Giro’s start. Many do use biodegradable cleaners, but plenty don’t, and the first rainstorm it goes right in the Adriatic.