I’m suffering from Tour de France withdrawal symptoms. For three weeks we had the telly on in the background in the afternoons, so we could keep tabs on what was going on and sit down and concentrate for the exciting bits. The cats still haven’t adapted. They end up on my chair about 4.30pm every afternoon, waiting for my lap to appear to watch the last hour or so of the race. It’s going to be a long time till next year! But luckily we have the Tour du Limousin in August so that will give us an excellent bike racing fix in the meantime. We may be able to take in two days of it.
So, I’ve been digging around to see what I could find out regarding the benefits of the race to France. First up, the environmental ones. A German study found that on the day the Tour passed through Karlsruhe, there was a significant reduction in air pollution, up to 25%. This quite simply resulted from closing the streets to traffic. It was also reckoned to result in saving public health costs by several tens of thousands of euros. Many tonnes of carbondioxide weren’t emitted, noise levels were dramatically lower and road traffic accidents were reduced. Multiply that by 21 days and France is a lot better off for all the disruption to the roads and traffic that the race and the caravan cause.
Economically the gains are huge. When the Tour started in London, it generated 73 million GBP in London and 15 million GBP in Kent, and a futher 35 million GBP in publicity. It’s reckoned that the towns that host stages earn around €100 million in free advertising, get 50,000 visitors, receive €250,000 in hotel fees for putting up the teams, and have an increase of 120% in turnover in the week of the stage. French TV receives more than 20 million euros each year for providing feeds to other channels.
Talking of economics, how much do cyclists earn? I’ve come across widely varying figures, some suggesting that Contador earns around €5 million a year from the sport and sponsorships, Cavendish around a million, potential stage winners €300,000, and humble domestiques around €30,000. The yellow jersey gets an extra €450,000 prize money, which is usually split between the team. And by the way, the pretty girls who hand out the prizes at the end of each stage are said to earn €2,500 each.
And what do the team sponsors spend per year to keep their cycling team going? Estimates are Team HTC-Highroad € 17 million; Rabobank €15 Million; Sky Pro Cycling €14 million; Pro Team Astana €13 million.
A few last Tour facts and figures:
Riders: 198 cyclists with 300 direct support staff, and 17 commissaires.
General support : 4,500 people; 2,400 vehicles.
Media: 2,400 journalists and photographers and 1 600 technicians working for 650 different media stations from 35 countries, and 370 newspapers, magazines, press agencies and Internet sites.
Police: 14,000 gendarmes involved, 9,000 national police and motocyclists; 1,000 representatives of préfectures.
Spectators: Up to a million along the route and 4 million TV spectators a day.
And 1.5 million bags of Haribo sweets get handed out by the caravan!