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Report: The peloton’s biggest salaries in 2022

Italian outlet Calcio e Finanza has completed a list revealing who earns the most in the sport

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Italian Sports finance outlet Calcio e Finanza published a report this weekend which revealed some of the top earners in cycling. Unsurprisingly, the top-20 earners in the sport are all male, with two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar topping out the list with a €6 million ($6.6 million) salary. 

It is worth stating, however, that some of these numbers are based on 2021 figures and are estimates, rather than concrete figures. With that in mind here is the top-20 according to Calcio e Finanza:

  1. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates): €6.0 million
  2. Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation): €5.5 million
  3. Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies): €5.5 million
  4. Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers): €3.5 million
  5. Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers): €2.8 million
  6. Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers): €2.5 million
  7. Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl): €2.3 million
  8. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): €2.2 million
  9. Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers): €2.2 million
  10. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma): €2.2 million
  11. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan): €2.1 million
  12. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma): €2.0 million
  13. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix): €2.0 million
  14. Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers): €2.0 million
  15. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ): €2.0 million
  16. Romain Bardet (Team DSM): €2.0 million
  17. Jakob Fuglsang (Israel-Premier Tech): €2.0 million
  18. Elia Viviani (Ineos Grenadiers): €1.9 million
  19. Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic): €1.9 million
  20. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Emirates): €1.8 million

Holding down a rider like Pogačar who is capable of winning both grand tours and monuments comes with a price tag that UAE Emirates are clearly able to afford, especially as the 23-year-old is locked in with the team until 2027 — by which stage the team will have forked out €36 million ($40 million).

The Slovenian is also the youngest on the list with the currently-injured 25-year-old Egan Bernal the second-youngest in 5th spot on €2.8. Bernal’s team, INEOS Grenadiers, backed by the eponymous multi-billion-dollar chemicals company, have four of their riders in the top-10 and six in the top-20.

Most of the riders in the top-20 are established figures in the sport, with some, such as those between second and fourth on the list, Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, and Peter Sagan, arguably past their peaks. It seems that although these riders may have already seen the best seasons of their careers, the prestige that they bring is clearly worth a lot.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, only three of the top-20 riders are contracted to second-tier ProTeams and those teams are the top three at that level. The need for non-WorldTeams to gain the points to ensure automatic invites to WorldTour races means they have to spend big on riders who can get them those much-needed points. Peter Sagan, Mathieu van der Poel, and Nairo Quintana are clearly worth their multi-million euro salaries for the clout they bring to their respective teams.

What doesn’t appear to have been factored into these figures are riders’ earnings from endorsements outside of the pay from teams. Some of the sport’s biggest names, such as Mark Cavendish — who doesn’t appear on the list — are known to have a number of personal deals with big brands such as Nike and Specialized.

Still, in comparison to other sportspeople, cyclists’ earnings are small-fry. According to Forbes, the highest-earning athlete in the world is Irish mixed marshal arts star Connor McGregor who in 2021 earned $180 million (or 100x Fernando Gaviria’s salary) with the majority coming from outside endorsements. The same year, football (soccer) player Cristiano Ronaldo is believed to have taken home $70 million in salary and bonuses and $55 million in endorsements.

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