The Tour de France may be one of the toughest endurance events an athlete can take part in, but when it comes to collecting their prize money after three weeks in the saddle, riders are reminded of just how tough the sport really is.
While some footballers regularly earn enough in a month to fund entire cycling teams for a season — those at UCI Continental level, at least — riders at the highest level in cycling remain relatively poorly rewarded.
To say being a professional cyclist is tough, cruel even, is an understatement of such magnitude it is difficult to comprehend when you consider what their footballing cousins trouser each week, golfers take home from majors or tennis players win at grand slams.
When Novak Djokovic won the men’s singles at Wimbledon last year, the Serbian pocketed £2.35 million for just 25 sets court time, or around £94,000 a set. By contrast, the winner at this year’s Tour will earn €500,000 in prize money, or around £452,367, for cycling 3,470 kilometres (2,156 miles) over a gruelling three-week period.
When you consider that tradition dictates the winner hands over his winnings to team-mates in recognition of their hard work, you start to understand what winning the fabled yellow jersey really means.