HOW MUCH MONEY DO THE TOP MOUNTAIN BIKERS MAKE?
Watch the video and read on to learn more about this topic and see what mountain bike world champions Greg Minnaar, Thomas Frischknecht, and Ned Overend have to say about the subject
Watch Aaron Gwin talk about how much money he was earning when this video was made:
This past weekend marked the completion of the 2022 Tour de France. The winner, Jonas Vingegaard, took home 500,000 euros (about $528,000) in prize money for the win. He wasn’t the only person to make money, either, of course.
Olympic mountain bike champion Tom Pidcock won Stage 12 in this year’s Tour, earning 11,000 euros (around $11,259) for doing so. That’s how much money is paid to every winner of each of the 21 stages. Pidcock finished 17th in the final standings of this year’s Tour de France.
Still, the money earned for winning any major cycling race, even the Tour de France, usually pales in comparison to the money that the top riders make in salaries and contingencies from their sponsors.
The big wins bring in the “Benjamins” for the top Americans.
That got us thinking. We wondered how much the top road cyclists make compared to the top mountain bikers. To find out, we did a little digging.
We did a Google search to find out how much money the top road bikers make per year, and our search came up with an estimate of roughly 5.5 to 6 million dollars a year for the highest earners, such as Peter Sagan, who is thought to be one of the two highest earners in the sport, according to our man Zap, who is the editorial director of both MBA and Road Bike Action.
It is now estimated that the world’s highest-paid mountain bikers make somewhere around $500,000 a year. We don’t know if that’s true or not, but that sounds like it’s probably about right.
Aaron Gwin’s first 11 years on the World Cup circuit put him second on the all-time World Cup winner’s list, right behind Greg Minnaar, who racked up 21 World Cup wins in 21 years by the time the video was made.
When the attached Red Bull video was released in early 2020, Aaron Gwin said in the video that he estimated that he was making around a million dollars a year (you can see him talking about that at around 9 minutes into the video). It seems unlikely that Gwin is earning that much money now, since he hasn’t won a World Cup title since 2017, and he hasn’t won a World Cup race since April of 2018, and a lot of his earnings came from bonuses and contingencies for major race and title wins. Nevertheless, it’s clear he was making a lot of money when the video was made.
Kate Courtney is probably one of the highest-paid women in the sport, thanks to her 2018 XC World Championship and her 2019 World Cup Series title.
We didn’t want to be rude by calling or emailing all the top pros, like Aaron Gwin, Greg Minnaar, Kate Courtney, Loic Bruni and Nino Schurter to ask them how much money they’re making, but we did email a few of them to see if they would be willing to comment on this topic. Here’s what Greg Minnaar told us:
“Yes, I believe you [are] right regarding road cycling. I’m not sure about XCO and their earnings, DH you seem to be on the right track, I’m not sure 500k would be the highest paid DH’er as Gwin has publicly mentioned he earned/earns $1mil per year. Hope this helps.”—GREG MINNAAR
We also reached out to Thomas Frischknecht, the manager of the SCOTT/SRAM mountain bike team to see what he could tell us, and we also asked him to forward our question to the team’s biggest star, the legendary Nino Schurter. Here’s what Frischi told us: “I can not comment on incomes on the road as I don’t know [.] For MTB your figures sound about right [. . .] the very best make more than 500k including personal sponsorship [. ] Nino is not commenting on his salary.” — TF
We also reached out to Ned Overend at Specialized. Ned won the first UCI World Championship in XC racing back in 1990. Here’s what Ned told us:
“It’s an interesting topic.
“I would guess there are very few Mtn bikers making 500k a year (like
one). At least from their industry sponsors. You have Tom Pidcock and
Mathieu van der Poel who probably make more, but that’s because those
two are on Pro Tour road teams.
“As you said, there are several road racers that are making several million.
“I attribute the disparity to the budgets of the pro road teams being
largely from businesses outside the bike industry. Ineos and Jumbo for
example. Whereas Mtn bike teams are primarily sponsored by the bike
industry. Specialized, SRAM, Maxxis, etc.
“The big sponsors of the road teams can justify the spending because of
the TV exposure road racing and especially the Tour De France get.
That TV coverage is not happening much in the US but it’s big in other
parts of the World.
“That’s my take.”
Here’s the video about the topic from Red Bull TV: