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EWS Prize Purse is Woefully Inadequate

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6/22/2021 8:44 AM

As we were browsing through the EWS Race Book for the first event of the year in Val di Fassa, Italy, we stumbled across the Prize Purse section. Now, this isn't going to be news to anybody who follows mountain bike racing, but we still want to bring up this discussion again - a total prize purse of 4600 EUROS for one whole race? (the same separate purse is offered for each race of this two-race event - 2 total purses of 4600 EUROS to be clear).

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When you take into account the amount of skill and training required to have any hope of challenging for a top spot at any of these races, and then add the amount of risk the riders have to take in order to lay down a top-5 run, this prize purse is really a slap in the face. Finishing 5th at an EWS race puts you in a very select group of absolute elite riders, and they'll hand you 100 euros in cash? That will hardly cover a round of beers for the team after the race. We don't want to come across as all high and mighty here, and we do know that it's hard to make a case for mountain biking as a mainstream sport in terms of potential value to the sponsors, but c'mon. There are 5-6 major sponsors involved here, if they all pitch in another 10K each, the prize purse could be doubled at every event. Nobody will get excited about getting 200 EUR for 5th in that scenario, but at least the winner will feel like they won something...

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6/22/2021 9:12 AM
Edited Date/Time: 6/22/2021 9:13 AM

The NAEC Qualifier in Idaho last week paid out twice that ($2700 USD) to the winner.

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6/22/2021 9:16 AM

And yet, they still compete!

I agree, those cash prizes are totally out of whack with the effort & risk involved. The counter-argument is that if the event revenue is focused on making the events look good and getting media coverage, then the top riders can leverage their results into sponsorship money, which is going to benefit more than just the top 5 riders in each category.

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6/22/2021 9:21 AM

Just_this_guy wrote:

And yet, they still compete!

I agree, those cash prizes are totally out of whack with the effort & risk involved. The ...more

"Exposure" is never the answer.

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6/22/2021 10:01 AM

If I recall, 1000euro, that's the same as Wyns best privateer award

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6/22/2021 10:26 AM

But what about all that 'discovery channel' hoopla? Will discovery do stories on the inadequate pay?
The key question is, What does Sven have to say about this? wink

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6/22/2021 10:48 AM

I posted this pic on FB back in 2015, when Richie Rude won 750€ for winning an EWS race, and Aaron Bradford won $5,000 on the same weekend for winning the Trans-Cascadia race. Seems not much has changed.
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John Pentecost// International Sales Mgr Pivot Cycles
Skype// john.pentecost72
pivotcycles.com

6/22/2021 11:13 AM
Edited Date/Time: 6/22/2021 11:14 AM

It almost seems like workers labor is undervalued by the people running the companies they work for. Like workers aren’t receiving a fair share of the value they generate for their firms. I’m just spitballing here.

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6/22/2021 11:14 AM
Edited Date/Time: 6/22/2021 11:15 AM

In mountain biking, organizers think small and refuse to seek high level talent and pay high level compensation.

Want a legitamite prize purse? Hire a marketing company that handles high end fundraising & sponsorship opportunities but name your money pool per event before you do.

If you're the organizer of these events, it's you who decides how much they get paid. Using the "excuse" that you can't raise enough funds but that the show must go on means you are not the one for the job and need mentors, help, education, connections, etc before you proceed.

It's obvious that the EWS organizer is willing to sacrifice the riders pay in lieu of their own monetary goals. You get what you demand for your riders. If you can't get the price for the riders that you demand, you step aside.

The companies who can get you that prize money pool ARE OUT THERE.

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Trouble Maker. Here to spit truth in the form of sarcasm.

6/22/2021 11:17 AM

I remember Sean that ran the US Open & Diablo Mountain Bike Park.

He came along and paid riders to race his event. Then the world turned on the guy because he drove a Porsche and wanted to make a handsome profit off a mountain bike park.

He may have been an S.O.B. or a total snake for all I know, but the one thing you can't deny is he paid the riders.

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Trouble Maker. Here to spit truth in the form of sarcasm.

6/22/2021 12:37 PM

John P. wrote:

I posted this pic on FB back in 2015, when Richie Rude won 750 for winning an EWS race, and Aaron Bradford won $5,000 on the ...more

Who is Aron Bradford....

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6/22/2021 12:53 PM

This is a failure of the EWS marketing team and the riders themselves. The riders because they are willing to accept it and the EWS team because they are unable to raise more money from sponsors.

The one downside to sponsors is that they will want more live coverage which will water down the events and series. Remember that XC racing used to be point to point until they wanted to show the races live in their entirety. Now we have bike park courses with 11 minute laps where every line is memorized. Compare that to the course at the All Mountain World Championships in Downieville. 30+ miles of climbing and descending with no service points/mechanics on course makes for much more interesting racing, but also less coverage.

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6/22/2021 12:57 PM

bizutch wrote:

In mountain biking, organizers think small and refuse to seek high level talent and pay high level compensation.

Want a ...more

Have you organized an enduro race? Last time I did my main concerns were, do I get the sponsormoney to fund my expenses so if the weather went bad, I wouldn't, or better our club wont loose money. I never thought of prize purses because people would be coming anyway, because they wanted to race. Also I wanted low entry fees to get young people to race. Now if there would have been more races around, probably I'd have had to compete for them by raising more money. But then again It was hard to get sponsorship money because nobody outside the industry saw real value in it. And I'm talking about Austria, 7 million inhabitants country, co-host of the EWS Petzen race. Just to give you an idea, we started 4 years prior to the first EWS there as an expatriate stop of a strong Slovenian race series. People winning that, and our races would be be top 30 at that EWS (top 3 in Vid Persak's case). I would have stepped away any minute to pass along the torch. After that three years we 3 organizers couldn't agree how to keep on doing it anymore as growing it, meant dealing with more risk and a looming financial hiatus on the horizon while all of us had a day job wasn't an option. At least not for me.
One last point - none of us took any money out of it and we all worked for free.

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6/22/2021 1:53 PM

bizutch wrote:

In mountain biking, organizers think small and refuse to seek high level talent and pay high level compensation.

Want a ...more

styriabeef wrote:

Have you organized an enduro race? Last time I did my main concerns were, do I get the sponsormoney to fund my expenses so if ...more

DH & XC races is what I did. And I never should have. Almost broke my family. But it was because you and I both did it for the wrong reasons most likely....love.

If I had racing to do all over again, I'd approach it as a 100% pure FOR PROFIT business model. I'd define my payout, my income requirements for myself and then approach the financial requirements of my race from there forward.

There are 2 fallacies about the math of a race that we all stumble upon:
1. Racers are income.
2. Sponsors are in the industry

The truth:
1. Racers are the product you are selling to make income for yourself
2. No sponsor in the industry should make you profit

Racers ATTRACT REVENUE GENERATING vendors and sponsors of an EVENT.

Vendors pay fees to have their products or sell their wares at your event and online when consumers are drawn to your PRODUCT.(racers).
Race sponsors who are inside the industry paying you or giving you product...that's double dipping & income incest.
Racers buy race bikes. Bike industry companies sell them.

If you charge a bike company to advertise at a race, you're triple charging the racer because the bike company then has to BUILD THAT SPONSORSHIP MONEY INTO THE COST OF THE BIKE.

Outside sponsorship dollars and vendors fees have to be your ONLY souce of income, not your reacers or your industry sponsors if an event is to be successful.

Hard pill to swallow. We try outside sponsors, but they aren't easy to come by. And we go after them as we approach industry sponsors.


It should be the opposite.
1.HEAVILY PURSUE ONLY OUTSIDE SPONSORS FIRST to pay YOU, the organizer
2. PROVE TO VENDORS how you are going to expose them to consumers they need to get in front of
3. If you can't, YOU CAN HIRE A HEADHUNTER FIRM WHO TAKES A CUT OF THE FUNDS THEY RAISE who WILL get you the money you deserve and pay the riders (your product) the money they deserve
4. Step 3 is where everyone stops. We riders or small time event organizers don't want to give up control or politics or too many people have a hand in organizing and screech it all to a halt.
5. When you've got your outside sponsors, food vendors & product vendors locked in, you call the bike industry companies and offer them discounted booth space and put that money into the Payout for the 10th-20th riders.

Bottom line, we think small and for the love it.
It's got to be for profit & we need outside help.


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Trouble Maker. Here to spit truth in the form of sarcasm.

6/22/2021 2:02 PM

Where is the dead horse and how can I add to the beating?!?! wink

In the 20 years I've been around racing, this has perpetually been a "thing". Here is where I feel most people miss the bigger picture...

1) Running a race is generally pretty expensive, especially an enduro race with multiple stages and all the cat herding that goes with such an event. Event organizers are business people and generally looking to make a profit. However, I sincerely doubt they are raking in millions (or even a "handsome" salary)

2) Racers keep showing up. Most racers will never see prize money the same way most instagram posters will never monetize their account but spend an inordinate amount of time chasing the carrot of _____ (fame, elevation within social heirarchies etc)

3) Nobody really cares. Mountain bike racing is a candle in the sun when you look at the likes of any major ball sport or form of racing where the pilot actually gets paid. Without real fandom, you can't expect real purses (or a deep number of salaries)

4) The system "works" as is. Racers win. They get bigger and better contracts from bigger and better companies. I'm sure they'd love real prize money too, but the incentive to go fast (monetarily) is still there.

I'm sure if the riders bitched and moaned they could get the purse to say $5K or $10K for the win. But does that really matter? Is that really even all that material for the guys winning? Its a nice bonus, but its not life changing the way winning the Masters is.

I'd love to see racers make more money at events but I see no way this actually happens outside of some bike enthusiast silicone valley billionaire going "bikes are cool, let me throw some money in the pot".

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6/22/2021 2:04 PM

bizutch wrote:

DH & XC races is what I did. And I never should have. Almost broke my family. But it was because you and I both did it for ...more

Bizutch if what you said was true Sea Otter Classic would be paying out to the tune of 5 figures for a win. They don't.

Its precedent mixed with how little bike racing really matters. That's why purses stay low and will continue to stay low. Its not about "making the event bigger". Its about making fandom extend beyond bike nerds, which won't happen.

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6/22/2021 2:35 PM

We saw the "other website" recently did a survey of top racers and revealed their salaries across disciplines.
If I recall, around 50% of the "pros" are racing for $5-20k.
I couldn't believe that half the field were basically needing prize money or second jobs to fund the racing.
It makes it all look like a hobby show.
Unfortunately I believe the general audience is too small and hard to televise for big money sponsors to step in. If they did, it would only be unsustainable philanthropy.
You have evidence of how little money there is in the sport, when Trek ditch enduro to cover the new surprises salary of World Champ Reece, leaving Katie Winton and others in the wind.

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6/22/2021 2:44 PM

John P. wrote:

I posted this pic on FB back in 2015, when Richie Rude won 750 for winning an EWS race, and Aaron Bradford won $5,000 on the ...more

styriabeef wrote:

Who is Aron Bradford....

I thought the same thing myself. Just looked him up on RootsandRain... seems he last raced in 2019.
https://www.rootsandrain.com/rider15393/aaron-bradford/results/

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John Pentecost// International Sales Mgr Pivot Cycles
Skype// john.pentecost72
pivotcycles.com

6/22/2021 2:49 PM

John P. wrote:

I thought the same thing myself. Just looked him up on RootsandRain... seems he last raced in 2019.
...more

Lol pretty much everyone last raced in 2019…

He is the Shimano tech guy for the PNW. Nicknamed the Sloth. Races locally and is obviously stupidly fast. Would have done better if he hadn’t dropped a chain on stage 4. Especially after he hit an inside line on the off camber that no one else could get and hit it FAST. Legit awesome guy and obviously fast…

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6/22/2021 3:03 PM

you don't get the knickname Chris "Baller" Ball by handing out free money.....

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6/22/2021 5:15 PM

Makes you wonder why someone like Richie wouldnt ditch ews for dh

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6/22/2021 5:30 PM

grinch wrote:

Makes you wonder why someone like Richie wouldnt ditch ews for dh

Yeti isn't paying him to ride bikes they don't make.
Apparently dentists don't DH!

Nobody is making a living in DH or enduro out of prizemoney.
From the looks of things, not many people are making a good living from sponsorship money, especially in DH.
It's all pretty depressing really...

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6/22/2021 6:13 PM
Edited Date/Time: 6/22/2021 6:16 PM

UCI pays a lot more % but not exactly making bank racing XCO or DH as far prize money goes.
Actually UCI pays nothing but controls the pay Photo

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6/22/2021 8:19 PM

In all honesty, the Pros are supposedly being paid a salary and getting various bonuses etc and it is very likely the Pros are the ones who will be in the top 5. Why not scrap the prize money for pros and then dish out prize money for the non-fulltime/semi-pro or privateer riders? I know that will be a royal pain to manage for the orangisers. Get more sponsors onboard to help increase the size of the purse and then spread round the prize money.

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6/22/2021 9:51 PM

I used to play disc golf aka frisbee golf aka frolf and, out of curiosity, checked out the professional dg association site - the last A Tier tournament had a prize purse of $51,431 USD. Not exactly the kind of sport that gets Red Bull type backing behind it...

https://www.pdga.com/tour/event/47514

I do know that players have to pony up a decent chunk of change to play in those tournaments and the majority of that money is put into the purse. Anyone know what the entry fees are like for EWS?

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6/23/2021 1:16 AM

Even if the purses were much bigger, only a handful of riders would actually be winning them, that doesn't help the sport in any way, we need more of the top 40 getting a basic salary and travel costs and insurance paid.

Races that are not UCI WC or EWS need to attract big names to their events to boost overall numbers, thus better prize purses. EWS is going to get all the big names by being the premier championship, and Pros placing well will get payouts from their teams in most cases (from what I know of some contracts). Based on the recent PB survey, the handful of guys already winning these events are making a good living from their sponsors, it is the guys trying to dedicate themselves full time, but only making 20-40th place that are struggling with little to no financial help.

I doubt anyone in the race organisation game is making particularly good money, would be interested to hear evidence based counter examples (way too much hearsay on the internet these days).

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6/23/2021 5:41 AM

Eoin wrote:

Even if the purses were much bigger, only a handful of riders would actually be winning them, that doesn't help the sport in ...more

This is another argument as old as racing itself. It holds little water. I say this as a guy who used to "believe" (want) the same thing.

I'd wager the big lie we all bought into was looking at ball sport athletes and thinking this is normal. Its not. Football, baseball, basketball and golf are really the exceptions, not the rule (I'll get to racing in a second). These are sports with oodles of fans who will never come close to playing the sport who pack stadiums, sit through commercials to watch it, buy over priced jersey's and make the competitive side of the sport an incredibly profitable enterprise. Read that again - the competition itself is very (very) lucrative for team owners and networks broadcasting the games. This is because there are millions upon millions of fans.

Racing on the other hand has its sports with incredible fandom, F1 has 400-600M viewers depending on the year. Nascar can pull in 3-12M people per event. There are stats suggesting the Tour is viewed by over a billion people (watching at least 1 minute) which I find shady. Regardless, LOTS of people tune into the tour.

Lets get to the point...

The reason you pay a ball sports athlete is to make your franchise more valuable. Sell more tickets at a higher price to the games. Sell more merchandise. Get more eyeballs on your team.

The reason you pay Tour athletes or F1 drivers is because of the advertising they can facilitate to a much bigger audience.

Mountain biking? I'm honestly shocked we have the salaries we do at the top. I would find it very difficult to justify paying a top tier athlete, especially in a sport that is as niche as enduro or DH. Would Yeti move as many frames without Richie? I'd bet it'd be close. Would Specialized move as many bikes without Bruni? Yup. I feel strongly one could start a bike company with zero top tier sponsorship and be successful.

The coverage of enduro racing is cool, but outside of Vital's interviews, which are rad, it barely scratches the surface of what it'd take to make it something your dad who doesn't ride bikes could tune into and watch without falling asleep.

People do sports for fun, which puts a big number on the supply side of the equation. When demand for top riders doesn't equate to actually turning a profit for anything, especially when advertising is so much better via Facebook Google etc in the internet era, the value of the normal racer has plummeted. (this ignores the Kade Edwards of the world).

There is no conspiracy here. If the value were there, someone could step in and put a race together with massive purses and sell the broadcast rights to the highest bidder. But they'll be no bidders and the purses will be money that could just be lit on fire by the promoter and get the same return.

This is nothing new, and oodles of other sports have the same fate. Even motocross, with a higher viewership, has the exact same problem. Erzberg has a purse of $0.00. Romaniacs is basically the same way (it won't even pay for the cost of doing the race) .

There are a bazillion sports with next to no pay and incredibly talented, hard working athletes.

Personally, I'm totally fine where things are. People ride bikes (and race bikes) because they love it. No ego. No doing it for the money (well, there is a little but not much). It makes for a really cool culture.

Want to get paid? Cool, have another thing going on. Racing ends anyway, and having that balance in your life creates for a better future anyway...

Hows that for a rant?




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6/23/2021 5:55 AM

Eoin wrote:

Even if the purses were much bigger, only a handful of riders would actually be winning them, that doesn't help the sport in ...more

jeff.brines wrote:

This is another argument as old as racing itself. It holds little water. I say this as a guy who used to "believe" (want) the ...more

Spot on.

On the other hand we've seen what Red Bull has made (and athletes) and how it brought money, infrastructure, organization and viewers to obscure and niche sports.

I think the more this sports grows (and we can all say it's still in his infancy) the more demand it will be for more content and ways to make money out of it.

Cycling used to be like that, and now you have riders who get paid millions, for a number of reasons that are not all related to their performance and wins. Just check how Sagan has a link with Specialized (no matter what team he rides), Specialized must know what they're doing, and it certainly has a relation with bike sales and image.

The way some can monetise their career and personality on social media can have a huge impact on the sport, that's why I gave Sagan as an example, even for people who are new to cycling.

I think things will get better, but it will take time.

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6/23/2021 6:24 AM

I’d rather see brands invest in races domestically then at ews or wc. The top guys will always do well and have value and the mid pack do it for the love and find a way to have value to brands if they really want a paycheck in the industry. Whether it be thru bike content like kade, or tech content like neko, or just being a personality doing cool things like Elliot.

However if a top level national racer can go to different local events all summer and be able to take off work 7 months a year by winning I think that will open the doors for a lot of people as well as get certain really talented and valueable dudes better off than they are now. Listening to a lot of interviews it seemed to be how a lot of the hey day 90s racers became pros were sustaining themselves with prize purses at home to race as a job.

I think a lot of brands more or less have this figured out tbh. So it’s a matter of local promoters finding more non industry sponsors who want very specific coverage in a niche demographic to help bike brands up those local purses.

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6/23/2021 6:57 AM

TEAMROBOT wrote:

It almost seems like workers labor is undervalued by the people running the companies they work for. Like workers aren’t ...more

Bernie is NOT going to be happy about this at all...

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