Questions about pro racing

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by sprcpr, Sep 29, 2006.

  1. sprcpr

    sprcpr New Member

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    Just a few questions. I'm a high school teacher actually, and not familliar with bicycle racing at all. I have a student that wants to be a pro cyclist. My question is: How many Pro cyclists are ther in this country? How many are semi pro? and what do these people do during the off time? How hard of a sport is it to break in to? I am very familiar with some other forms of racing (car and motorcycle) and I know that breaking in to the pro ranks in these sports takes quite a bit of money and time. Both is equipment and in travel. You also have to have a job that allows for a pretty flexible schedule if you are working. I think it would be great if he could do it, but I just want him to have a realistic roadmap. He has this idea that all of the professional roadracers are making a living doing the racing.

    What do you say?

    Thanks for your time

    P.S. Any resources you can point me to would be greatly appreciated
     
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  2. carpediemracing

    carpediemracing New Member

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    Governing body (US)
    http://www.usacycling.org/

    news sites
    www.cyclingnews.com (Australia I think)
    www.velonews.com (US)

    Sample former Lance teammate commenting on pro lifestyle
    http://www.dailypeloton.com/displayarticle.asp?pk=3119

    One of the more popular US domestic pros on becoming a pro
    http://www.racelistings.com/rzone/articles/article.asp?recid=148

    There is a category for under 23 year old racers commonly referred as U23 or "espoirs". Racers under 18 are typically "Juniors". New racers are categorized as "5's" - this categorization is independent of age. As you get better, you move up to 4's, 3's, 2's, and 1's. As a 1, you'd be able to enter Pro-1 or Elite races and test your mettle against the pros.

    Doping aside, there is a genetic element to becoming a successful cyclist. Without this talent, it will be impossible to become a successful pro cyclist. There are various sayings but essentially they boil down to "If you want to be a great cyclist, pick your parents carefully".

    If you are familiar with motorsports costs, you will think bike racing is a bargain. You could outfit a racer for $3-4k from head to toe, for all weather conditions, and maybe even buy a roof rack for a car. Expensive wheelsets are over $1k, usable ones $350 on up. Once the racer is good enough to require special equipment, you may need to buy other bicycles, different wheels, and some specialty parts/accessories. Entry fees in the US are typically $20-30 per race until you become regional/national level. Around here a great racer can win $100-1000+ a weekend without technically having a pro license. (a super talented racer can almost assume winning a lot of money initially)

    Prospective pros must be able to deal with crushing disappointment, misfortune, and lots of work with initially small returns.

    At one race (Tour of Fitchburg), I had a very illuminating conversation with a support staff member of a domestic pro team. They revealed the entry level racers earned about $7-8k a year in salary, supplemented by as much as $10-15k in winnings (the team shared winnings). Keep in mind winning money in pro races is a lot harder than it is in amateur races - after all, you're racing against pros. These poor racers lived off their sponsor's energy bars and drinks and sold much of those products in order to get some cash. And these were some very, very good racers.

    As someone who was (un)fortunate enough to race against pro racers when they were young, I can say that if your student enters races and can win solo at will at virtually every race they enter (Juniors as well as Senior races up to say Category 3), then they might be able to become a reasonable domestic pro. They must be able to absolutely crush the competition. It should be almost boring for them to race.

    Frank McCormack sort of fit this bill, became a successful domestic racer, and he still wins races. When he was 14 he dominated the Junior race at a particular venue and then did the Cat 1-2 race and worked the whole race for his older teammates. George Hincapie also raced in this area, winning virtually everything with his brother Richard. He ended up on the National Team, did a huge (at that time) solo break of 150 or so km at age 19 in a relatively important US pro race (Tour DuPont). There are lots of riders in the same area who were close to their ability but could not break into the domestic pro scene (at least to the point where they could work full time on cycling). They could podium at Nationals, win the top Junior events in the world, but they did not turn pro.

    Although the pro scene must look appealing at some level, the reality is that it is a very tough and unforgiving profession.

    cdr
     
  3. andrello

    andrello New Member

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    Around where? The cash prizes in most races I've seen are much less. And the majority pro cyclists - even those in the Tour make less than $50,000 per year.
     
  4. Rhubarb

    Rhubarb New Member

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    How old is your student?

    There is nothing wrong with having the dream of being a pro, especially if you love to ride and love to race. I have a mate who is a good cyclist who has just quit his job to work part time in a bike store so that he can train full time. His dream is to turn pro. Realistically he knows very well that the odds are against him but he wants to see how good he can get, and not die wondering.

    His never been happier.

    I say go for it, but understand the reailty that it may never happen, so you're still going to have to have a way to earn a living. Maybe a bike shop :)
     
  5. carpediemracing

    carpediemracing New Member

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    I'm not sure if you misunderstood but my prize range was $100 to $1000 per weekend of racing. I don't disagree with the fact that pro cyclists are typically poor. Also, winning prize money doesn't mean you can do it for 50 weeks of the year. I'm in the NY area and the season, at best, is 8 months long (March - Oct). The good racers, they can win 20+ races a year, place second 20+ times, etc. then plead lack of training for a few months the following year and do it again.

    a couple examples of some more lucrative races:
    Harlem Crit
    Cat 3/4's - $1500/20
    M30+ - $1500/20
    Pro/1/2/3 - $4000/20

    Providence Crit
    M35, M45, 3/4 - $500
    Pro/1/2 - $15,000

    Somerville is usually big, so are New Britain, the races around Somerville (Branch Brook?), GS Mengoni, Hartford, the various NYC series, a bunch of NJ crits, etc. I know people from this area go to Christiana for those races, SuperWeek, the Ohio races.

    One racing couple I know won $1600 in one day this year (it was their best day but still...).

    I help promote a series that paid out $9000 for 7 different races over 6 weeks of racing for a $14 pre-reg fee.

    I still stand by my claim that a great racer can easily win races around here. For example, although Frank McCormack is not necessarily at the forefront of everyone's lips when talking about the next best US rider, he wins a lot around here, including that Providence Crit. It is not unusual for an older but talented racer to win/place-second in the 50's, 40's, and the 3's in one day! I've witnessed this on a couple occasions - and winning two races and placing second in one will pay a lot more than $100. And when national level racers show up at the aforementioned series I promote, they clean up.

    cdr
     
  6. asgelle

    asgelle New Member

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    The MINIMUM salary for a ProTour rider (all but one or two Tour de France teams must be from the ProTour) is 30,000 Euro. Since only the top 9 of 25 riders on a team make the Tour team, I'd be surprised if more than a handful of Tour riders make less than $50,000.
     
  7. Rhubarb

    Rhubarb New Member

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    Agreed.
     
  8. helmutRoole2

    helmutRoole2 New Member

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    Also, there's the expense of doping. At another 50k/year.
     
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