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Wheels Roundup: Pogačar Is Highest-Paid Rider and Other News

By Siegfried Mortkowitz

Which rider ended 2023 as UCI’s top-ranked performer and began 2024 as the sport’s highest-paid rider? According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, it was UAE Team Emirates leader Tadej Pogačar who reportedly earns €6 million per year. That puts him well ahead of his Slovenian compatriot Primož Roglič, who is paid €4.5 million per year by his new club BORA-hansgrohe. Roglič’s former teammate Jonas Vingegaard sits just behind on the salary podium with an annual salary of €4 million from Visma–Lease A Bike.

The current world road race champion, and imminent world cyclocross champion, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninch), also makes €4 million a year, which enables him to again beat out arch-rival Wout van Aert (Visma–Lease A Bike), who has to be happy with a mere €3.5 million a year. World ITT champion Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep) lies sixth (but for how much longer?) with an estimated €2.8 million per season, ahead of Tom Pidcock (INEOS Grenadiers) and Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) who both earn an estimated at €2.7 million per year. The top 10 is completed by two more INEOS riders, Egan Bernal and Carlos Rodriguez, with €2.5 million each.

What have we learned here? Well, if you are a teenager who loves cycling, you will have learned that you should start training hard now because it could be well worth your while, eventually.

According to BORA-hansgrohe sports director Bernard Eisel, Roglič’s arrival at the team has already been a big plus, although he has not yet pushed a bike pedal in anger. “It’s definitely a boost,” Eisel told Velo. “From the staff to the riders, Primož is lifting things for everyone.”

Primož Roglič
Roglič is paid €4.5 million per year by his new club BORA – hansgrohe. © Profimedia

While Eisel is directing the BORA squad at the Santos Tour Down Under, Roglič and the other team riders have just finished a team camp on the island of Mallorca. The Slovenian is targeting the Tour de France this year and will likely make his first start at the Paris-Nice on March 3. While Eisel was eager to point out that it is not a one-rider team – “We also have [Dani] Martínez, [Alexandr] Vlasov, Jai [Hindley]” – he also said that Roglič’s presence raises the performance bar for everyone. “Everyone knows that if Primož is dialled in for Paris-Nice or Tirreno, everyone else has to step up,” he said. “It also opens the GC for the others. That’s what Jumbo’s done so nicely in the past couple of years of having two and even three [GC] options.”

Finally, Cycling Weekly is reporting that the bikes of the women and men riding in the Santos Tour Down Under races have been subjected to examinations by UCI commissaires of their brake lever angles. The commissaires inspect the bikes with a 3D-printed tool, which clamps onto their hoods and drops. It allows for up to 10 degrees of inward rotation for the brake levers, and it also checks how flared the drops of the handlebar are. According to the magazine, recently riders have taken to tilting their hoods inwards, which helps them reduce the amount of body area open to wind and so gives them an aerodynamic advantage.

In a statement released in December, the UCI declared: “Positioning the levers with an extreme inclination limits the braking capacity of the riders and constitutes a modification of the product beyond its intended use. Such positioning will be restricted in 2024. In 2025, new regulations will come into force requiring compliance with the installation guidelines established by brake lever manufacturers.”

However, the trick has been widely criticised by riders and others in the sport. One industry expert, who asked to have his name withheld, told Cycling Weekly that the rule change should not come as a surprise. “Turning your levers in is ridiculous and dangerous and stupid,” the expert said. “It’s a safety thing, basically. If you turn your levers in at 90 degrees, like some of these juniors are doing, you cannot reach the brakes, you cannot change gear. Yes, you might have a very nice aero-looking position when you’re on the hoods but the rest of the time, you can’t climb safely, you can’t hit the brakes properly.”