The Tour de France is one stage from ending with Colombia’s Egan Bernal set to be the first South American winner of the event. He leads fellow Team INEOS member Geraint Thomas by a minute and 11 seconds with just 128km to go.
This would net him €500,000 (over $557 thousand in U.S. dollars) of prize money. This is based on a purse of €2.3 million ($2.56 million). It would be the biggest payday of his career from a race, as he has also brought home victories at the following tournaments:
- Tour de Suisse 2019
- Paris – Nice 2019
- Amgen Tour of California 2018
- Sibiu Cycling Tour 2017
- Colombia Oro y Paz 2018
Last year, Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal bemoaned how little the winner’s share is compared to other major sporting events.
“It’s insane and Tour should be mortified,” he tweeted. “Astros got $40 million for World Series. Daytona 500 purse is $15 million. Tour de France is a month of international TV programming. Cyclists need to organize (and women’s cyclists getting tiniest fraction of this.)”
Cycling has never been a sport where you make your money on the road. Lance Armstrong boasted a net worth of about $125 million, and as CNN noted after his doping scandal, most of that came from sponsors.
Armstrong earned about $17.5 million from sponsors in 2005 alone, the year he retired after his 7th straight Tour victory, according to Sports Illustrated.
To put into context, if Bernal made that much in endorsements per year, he would be raking in 30 times more money from that than his race earnings. For Bernal, his main source of income is his actual contract with Team INEOS.
According to The Guardian, his annual salary is £2.4 million ($2.97 million), which is through INEOS (Team Sky). The 5-year deal is worth £12 million ($14.8 million) overall.
“I know five years is a long time and that it’s not too common in cycling, but the team has been great for me,” Bernal said when he signed the contract in Oct. 2018. “They offer me everything I could want and I’m excited about the future.”
Stage 21 Will Act Essentially as a Coronation for Bernal
Stage 21 is a lengthy but flat course that runs from Rambouillet, just outside Paris, to the city center for nine laps of the traditional circuit up and down the Champs-Élysées. In essence, it’s a celebration of the winner, who barring disaster will be Bernal.
The final stage always starts at a stately pace. It’s mostly a celebration: of Egan Bernal, the first-ever Colombian to win the Tour and the race’s Best Young Rider; of Peter Sagan, who will take a record-breaking seventh win in the green jersey competition; of Romain Bardet, in polka dots; and of the 155 riders left from the 176 who set out in Brussels three weeks ago. Expect champagne toasts, smiles, and a few pranks or other plays for laughs as the riders make their way to the center of Paris.
Bernal earned his position over the last two stages in the Alps. He started 90 seconds behind Julian Alphillipe before Stage 19, only to end up 48 seconds ahead after weather shortened the track on Friday. He built the lead even more on Saturday.
His hard work will lead to a raucous celebration and a history-making moment for Colombian sports.