At the Tour, winning is not everything. The most obvious prize is the Yellow Jersey, or maillot jaune, of the leader. Next are the individual stage wins, which are obviously also important. But did you know that there three other jerseys up for grabs, and an additional two competitions?
We’ll save those for another day, and today focus on money. It makes the world go ‘round, and it makes the Tour go ‘round. More specifically, it is one of the main reasons for the long breakaways we often see that might have you scratching your head. “They never win, so why do they do it?” It all comes down to $$$. Or, actually, €€€.
The easiest to understand are the mid-race prizes. Each time there is a sprint or a ranked climb, the first rider(s) over the line get money; anywhere from €200-800 for first. Win a couple of those, and it’s not a bad day’s work.
However, the even bigger prize is TV time. In the 2010 Super Bowl, a 30-second TV commercial cost $2.6million. Teams are funded by sponsors who want to see their name on TV; lots of TV time means more sponsors, bigger paychecks and job security. If a breakaway lasts for 5 hours, that’s a lot of TV time! If we compare the number of viewers of the Tour to the Super Bowl, and assume a break is just on TV for 2 hours, that’s nearly $25million worth of advertising.
You better believe the directors of the smaller teams are telling their guys to get into the day’s breakaway – they can’t afford not to!
Steen A. Rose is an elite cycling and triathlon coach. He started coaching in 2003, and has been an Elite Coach with Training Bible Coaching since 2009. Steen is also captain of the Sun & Ski/Subaru Cycling and Triathlon teams. He has been racing since 1997, holds a Category 1 license, and has 13 state championships, 3 national medals, and 4 international podiums to his credit. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org