What does it cost to be competitive in the Tour de France?

The governing body of the Tour de France has declared the lightest any competitor’s bike can be is 6.8 kilograms. As bikes get lighter their affordability decreases. Even at 6.8 kilograms most bikes are costing up to $13,000; but for most teams this is an acceptable price to ride at the Tour de France.

Most teams will have nine riders, each with at least two bikes (we’re up to $234,000) and a time trial bike of at least equal value ($351,000). Add to that the on-board computer (around $3,500) positioned on the bike handlebars and the price creeps up to $445,500 per team.

Team bikes in the Tour de France. Photo: roadcyclinguk.com

Team bikes in the Tour de France. Photo: roadcyclinguk.com

The specialised shoes ($400 each), carbon fibre wheels (anything up to $15,000 each), high protein food and electrolyte drinks add to the bill (budget for $200 per day per rider for the three week event). Now add in the cost of support vehicles, team doctors and physio’s, mechanics and coaches. Factor in the price of accommodation, warehousing the bikes and equipment each night.  And add to all this the cost of communications and technical support and the price of competing in the world’s greatest bike race becomes beyond the reach of all but a few dedicated, well-funded teams.

The equipment alone makes cycle racing at the top level prohibitive for all but the wealthiest teams. Riders unable to be picked up by such teams simply cannot compete, no matter how talented they are.

By limiting the minimum weight (and therefore the price) of each rider’s bike the tour de France organizers have taken the first tiny step towards making their event more accessible.

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