Who won the Tour of France 2021?
On Saturday, Wout van Aert won his second stage at this year's Tour de France with a brilliant time trial performance. Tadej Pogacar did more than enough to all but officially win the 2021 Tour de France, as he retained his yellow jersey. MARCA.comTour de France 2021 Stage 21, LIVE: Van Aert wins, Pogacar champion, final results and classification
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20 July, 2021 - 02:01pm
20 July, 2021 - 02:01pm
20 July, 2021 - 02:01pm
20 July, 2021 - 02:01pm
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The Tour’s first-place purse is the largest in cycling but remains relatively paltry compared to the tournament payouts that elite golfers see for a week’s work, let alone a month.
The total purse for the entire Tour, including stages, jerseys, and special primes, totals €2,269,450. Again, tops in cycling, but that’s equal to a middling golf or tennis tournament.
Prize money is much like other financial aspects of cycling — things are not always what they seem.
Where does the prize money come from? How is it allocated? And who gets what?
Let’s take a deep dive into some of the numbers:
2 Green Jerseys, 10 years apart for @MarkCavendish! 🍀✅🍾
— Specialized Bicycles (@iamspecialized) July 18, 2021
Of course, €500,000 is nothing to sneeze at. Even if it’s a low number when compared to golf or tennis, it’s still a good chunk of change.
It’s a long-running tradition that the Tour winner divides the prize with teammates. Staffers also see a chunk (see below). After all, cycling is a team sport with an individual winner. The victory goes to one, but the spoils are shared by all.
A Tour winner will sometimes buy their teammates a special gift, like a luxury watch, or invite everyone on a special trip with family.
So the other UAE-Team Emirates riders arriving in Paris should be seeing a nice Tour “bonus” at least in the middle five-digits on top of their salaries, not bad for three weeks of hard work.
Compared to the $150,000 payout to each team member on the winning team of the Super Bowl, it’s peanuts, but cycling doesn’t have a huge stadium or massive TV rights.
It’s no mystery that today’s top racing pros make the majority of their income from salaries.
Pogačar is on a five-year deal, one of the longest in cycling history, and though his wage is not public knowledge, he is already among the best paid in the peloton, with a salary likely close to or above €3 million per year.
Performance bonuses are also part of many contracts, especially for a rider like Mark Cavendish, who likely was on a low salary, but with bonuses written in. Tour winners and other top stars also will receive bonuses from sponsors and team ownership.
As rider salaries have steadily increased in the past 20 years or so, sharing out the winner’s prize money isn’t nearly as important as it was in the 1980s or before, when a rider might only be earning $20,000 or $30,000 a year.
Also read: Peter Sagan is peloton’s best-paid cyclist
Most established WorldTour pros today are earning well into low to middle six figures, with neo-pros already racing on a minimum wage of $40,000 per season. Top-end domestiques and co-leader riders can earn up to high-end six figures, and even into the low millions.
Top Tour riders also make money on post-race criteriums, but that tradition is slowly dying out, and the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t helped. But a top name can still earn five figures, perhaps even low six-figures, in a few high-end criteriums that still exist.
Of course, it pays to be on a team that’s successful. The bottom six teams in the Tour made less than €25,000. That payout will be paltry per rider, and even less for staffers.
So are top Tour-level riders making millions like an NBA or MLB star? Not even close. Yet today’s pros are better paid than ever before in the sport’s history.
Is the prize money a nice bonus? Most definitely, but they’re not paying the rent with it, and it’s not why they’re racing.
The Tour’s prize money list fills two pages in the official roadbook.
Not only are there payouts for GC, but there are also cash prizes and primes littered across the Tour route for stage winners, jersey-holders, the most aggressive rider, and those who top out first on iconic climbs.
Prize money runs deep into each day’s results sheet, and is tallied up at the end of each Tour and divvied out by the team.
This year, UAE-Team Emirates topped the team’s list, earning €619,580. Last was Qhubeka-NextHash, with €11,650, while sixteen teams earned less than €100,000 in prize money during the 2021 Tour.
A stage victor earns €11,000, rolling down to €300 for 20th, with €28,650 in prize money per stage. Times that by 21 and it’s more than €600,000 for stages alone.
For the GC, there’s €200,000 for second and €100,000 for third, with €1,000 for anyone who makes it to Paris from 20th place on down. The total GC purse is €1,158,800.
There are prize money awards at intermediate sprints (€1,500 for first) and €25,000 for the winner of the green jersey. The same goes for the King of the Mountains jersey, with the best young rider winning €20,000.
The top team wins €58,000, each day’s most aggressive rider wins €2,000, with the “super-combative” rider winning €20,000 in Paris.
There are two primes exceptionnelles for the first over the highest point in the Alps and Pyrénées, each winning €5,000 each.
— @UAE-TeamEmirates (@TeamEmiratesUAE) July 19, 2021
Where the prize money really sees an impact is among staffers.
Soigneurs, bus drivers, mechanics, and other auxiliary team employees will usually see a share of the pot.
Though the system varies from team to team, the traditional way of splitting up prize money is to award team staffers a “share” of the winnings, and then split that up by how many days a staffer worked.
Also read: Meet Peter Sagan’s personal soigneur
So at the Tour, if the squad is eight riders, a team might add one or two more “riders” during a race, and then divide out the prize money among up its many staffers. A bonus for a top team can be several thousand euros, up to low five-figure numbers.
Many of the back-room staffers are on relatively low salaries, but benefits include weeks and months of paid expenses when they’re on the road. Prize money is typically added up during the season and paid out quarterly or at the end of the year.
Sport directors, managers, coaches, and trainers will also see performance-based bonuses, which are often written into contracts, or paid out as part of the winner’s pie, depending on the team.
How much do these staffers make?
A lot depends on the team. With teams now boasting backroom staffers that can top 60 people, many are full-time employees, with health insurance and other benefits in addition to a full-time salary that can range from middle to upper five figures, higher for a big-name trainer or coach.
Other teams hire out helpers on a contractual basis, usually on a per-need basis, so a mechanic or sport director might have a contract for 90 race days a year.
— La Flamme Rouge (@laflammerouge16) July 18, 2021
For any team staff, bonuses and extra payments are indeed welcome.
Of course, if a team has bad luck or under-performs, the end-of-Tour bonuses might be just a few hundred dollars. Yet the work hours are the same.
The takeaway? Riders don’t race for prize money nearly as much in modern cycling, but it’s a nice bonus for teams with a lot of success at the Tour de France.
In what’s a long-running tradition in a sport with an individual winner in a team sport, most teams divide the prize money among riders, sport directors, and staffers.
Again, the total purse for the Tour is €2,269,450. That’s the biggest in cycling, but relatively small when compared to larger, more mainstream sports.
As is often the case in the peloton and in life in general, a few get rich, and the rest work hard for their money.
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20 July, 2021 - 02:01pm
Who had a standout Tour, and who fell short of expectations?
Consider the manner in which Pogačar won: The Slovenian dominated the race in a way we haven’t seen in years, winning three stages and—for the second year in a row—the yellow, white, and polka-dot jerseys.
Credit Pogačar for taking advantage of a wonky first week in which almost everyone hit the deck at least once. Yes, he crushed the Tour’s first individual time trial on Stage 5, but it was really the weekend in the Alps where he essentially won the Tour. Knowing that Jumbo-Visma was reeling and INEOS-Grenadiers was rising like they had the yellow jersey, Pogačar went on the offensive, attacking on both Alpine stages to add more time to his already formidable advantage. By the first rest day, the Tour was essentially over.
Pogačar has now won four of the five stage races he’s entered this year—and finished second in the fifth. He also won his first one-day Monument (Liège–Bastogne–Liège) and now heads to the Olympics where he’ll be one of the top favorites for Saturday’s road race. Based on what we saw during the Tour’s final week—when he won back-to-back summit finishes—we have a hard time discounting his chance to add a gold medal to his yellow jersey.
We’ve written a lot about Mark Cavendish’s incredible Tour, but frankly, it was probably the best storyline of the entire Tour de France. In case you hadn’t heard, Cav wasn’t on the initial Tour roster, but he earned a last-minute call-up thanks to a knee injury sustained by Ireland’s Sam Bennett, who won two stages and the green jersey in last year’s Tour. Well, the rest was (literally) history, as Cav won four stages and the second green jersey of his career. More importantly, those four stage wins brought Cav’s career tally to 34, tying him with Eddy Merckx for the most stage wins in Tour history.
Yes, Cav’s YOLO Tour ended on a bit of a sour note after fan videos caught him berating one of his mechanics prior to the start of Stage 19—and he subsequently failed to break Merckx’s record—but Cav was still the biggest (mostly) feel-good story of the 2021 Tour de France.
A bit overshadowed by Pogačar and Cavendish, Belgium’s Wout van Aert had a Tour de France that reminded us of French legend Bernard Hinault. A rider who proven himself capable of winning on just about any terrain, the Belgian champion won three stages: the Mont Ventoux stage (Stage 11), the Tour’s second individual time trial (Stage 20), and the final stage on the Champs-Élysées (Stage 21). That’s an impressive collection of stage victories for someone who came into the sport as the man many assumed would become Belgium’s next king of the cobbled Classics (he’s on his way to doing that too). Next, Van Aert heads to the Olympic road race, where he’s probably the rider most likely to give Pogačar nightmares—especially if a small but select group ends up sprinting for the gold medal.
Sure enough, Roglič abandoned the Tour before Stage 9 and Vingegaard went on to be the only rider in this year’s Tour who can say he dropped Tadej Pogačar (just for a few minutes near the top of Mont Ventoux at the end of Stage 11). The 24-year-old ended his maiden Tour in second place overall, the highest placing for a Dane since Bjarne Riis won the race in 1996.
As if having a bona fide Tour contender isn’t enough, Denmark also gets to host the first three stages of next year’s Tour. Originally planned to host the start of this year’s race, the Danish Grand Depart was pushed back a year given the logistical nightmare caused by the postponement of the Euro 2020 soccer tournament and the Summer Olympics. Let’s hope next year’s hype doesn’t prove too much for Vingegaard to handle. But for the Danish fans, having a GC contender and a Tour starting on home soil, well, that’s just about too good to be true.
We can’t mention van Aert and Vingegaard without giving credit to Jumbo-Visma as a whole—which is really saying something given the fact that the team finished with only four riders. The team came to the race all-in on Roglič, who basically came within one day of winning the 2020 Tour de France. But when Roglič crashed near the end of Stage 3 and then lost several minutes on Stage 7, it was clear the team needed to adjust its plans.
Well, credit the team’s directors for mastering the art of the pivot. By the end of the Tour, the team had won four stages and placed Vingegaard on the Tour’s final podium in Paris—in the same position (second) that Roglič took last year. Most teams fall apart upon losing their team captain, but not Jumbo-Visma. Instead, losing Roglič galvanized the team’s remaining riders, perhaps by giving them the freedom to ride for themselves without having to worry about letting anyone down. If the team wins next year’s Tour, they might have this year’s setbacks to thank.
Honorable Mention: Alpecin-Fenix, BORA-hansgrohe, and Specialized.
Well, that plan went out the window on the Tour’s first three stages; Richie Porte and Tao Geoghegan Hart lost minutes on Stage 1, and Geraint Thomas fell and dislocating his shoulder on Stage 3. Suddenly, the Tour’s great agitators were down to just one GC captain: Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz. But while the Jumbo-Visma team adapted, INEOS reverted back to tactics it used in the past, tactics that essentially did the work that Pogačar and his team should have been doing to defend the yellow jersey. Carapaz made some mistakes as well, attacking several times in the Alps only to be caught and eventually dropped by Pogačar.
INEOS is used to having both the Tour’s strongest team and the Tour’s strongest rider, but the past two years have proven that the British SuperTeam has few answers when presented with a rider like Pogačar. INEOS better find an answer soon, because the 22-year-old Pogačar is signed with UAE Team Emirates through 2026. Simply buying their way to a solution isn’t going to cut it.
There were more French riders in this year’s Tour (33) than any other nation, yet they won just one stage: Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) took Stage 1 and the Tour’s first yellow jersey. But things went downhill fast: Alaphilippe lost the jersey the next day, French GC contenders started losing time, and the only French team to win a stage (AG2R), had its stage won by an Australian (Ben O’Connor, Stage 9).
This was indeed a weird Tour in which crashes and rain marred the first week and Pogačar dominated the third. But several stages went to breakaways and it’s there that the French often shine. It’s hard to place the blame on one team or rider, but home fans aren’t happy.
It seems like only yesterday that Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) and Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) were two of the Tour’s biggest stars, winning stages, breaking green jersey records (Sagan), and soaring through the Tour’s high mountains (Quintana). But times have certainly changed.
Sagan hasn’t won a stage at the Tour since 2019 and dropped out of this year’s Tour with a knee injury prior to Stage 12. (That’s only the second time Sagan has failed to finish the Tour.) The Slovak’s rumored move to Team TotalEnergies (along with his large entourage and bike sponsor Specialized) was finally announced late in the Tour, but we can’t help but think the French team is paying for Sagan’s resume, not his future prospects. And as Quintana is finding out, the grass isn’t always greener on the French side of the fence.
Seemingly unconcerned with a high GC finish in this year’s Tour, Quintana flashed signs that his best form was on the way; he wore the polka dot jersey as the leader of the Tour’s King of the Mountains classification for five days during the Tour’s second week. But the Colombian’s challenge never materialized and our hopes of seeing Quintana win a mountain stage or keeping the polka dot jersey all the way Paris went up in smoke. Transferring from Movistar to Arkea-Samsic prior to 2020 hasn’t worked out as well as he might have hoped, and one can be forgiven for wondering if Quintana’s best years are behind him—and where he’ll land when his current contract expires at the end of the next season.
Yes, Bahrain-Victorious won three stages, but given the fact that the team’s recent run of success has triggered an investigation into the methods by which the team “prepares” for its races, you’re excused for feeling a bit skeptical.
And Pogačar’s not exempt either. The 22-year-old’s dominance has raised quite a few eyebrows, and his answers to questions about his own performance are rather weak. Releasing his power data might be a good start, but in a sport for whom the phrase “where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire” often rings true, let’s just hope that Matej Mohorič’s victory “salute” at the end of Stage 19 doesn’t turn out to be the moment for which the 2021 Tour de France will ultimately be remembered.
Honorable Mention: Israel Start-Up Nation, Lotto-Soudal, and Movistar.
20 July, 2021 - 02:01pm
20 July, 2021 - 02:01pm