Tour de Farce: Saluting Before the Line With CBA

Tour de Farce: Saluting Before the Line With CBA

 Cyclistes Professionnels Associes’ New Collective Bargaining Agreement: A Missed Opportunity for Riders

Earlier in the year the Cyclistes Professionnels Associes’ (the CPA) signed a new collective bargaining agreement with the Association International des Groupes Cyclistes Professionels (AIGCP - this is essentially the Union for professional teams). Unlike in the National Rugby League earlier this year, where players engaged in media walkouts and released videos campaigning for the NRL to come to the table and negotiate in good faith, or in the 2011 lockout of the NFL in America where no player activity occurred for 132 days, this new agreement between professional male cyclists who race in the WorldTour or ProTour and their teams was signed with very little scrutiny. Certainly, it seems like very few in the cycling community are aware of the new CBA at all. 

CBA’s in sport serve as contractual frameworks between athletes and teams/league. They regulate the employment relationship between the two parties and can include anything from wages and entitlements to working conditions, training and development, and technology and equipment.

They are a negotiation. A well negotiated CBA is perhaps one of the most powerful tools athletes have to advance their working conditions, rights within the sport, salaries and their ability to capitalise on their career earnings. The new CBA unfortunately has failed to negotiate much at all for male professional riders, which is perhaps one of the reasons no one is talking about it. For me, however, that is exactly why everyone should be talking about it.

Despite the increasing reach of cycling, the CPA, tasked with safeguarding the interests of professional riders, has entered into an agreement that;

  • Reduces the minimum wage by 10-15% in real terms;
  • Omits crucial provisions concerning athlete data ownership, data usage, and privacy;
  • Failed to enable riders to maximise the potential of their personal brand, restricting their income opportunities both during and after their careers; and 
  • Neglected to introduce any new safety measures, putting rider well-being at risk.

Riders, especially those hovering around the minimum wage, women, and those early in their career, should critically examine the agreement. Riders should ask, does this agreement represent fair wage growth? Do I get a piece of cycling's growing financial pie? And, why, in the aftermath of Gino Mader's tragic passing, are there no new safety measures to safeguard my well-being? 

As a group, riders have the power to take this agreement back to the drawing board and ask for a CBA that appropriately protects their rights, interests and importantly safety - both short and long term - as professional athletes.


Typically, a new CBA will see an increase in the minimum wage for employees. This can be based on a fixed percentage rate increase over a number of years or negotiated to move with inflation. 

Inflation is the increase in the prices of goods and services over time. It is why the same amount of money can buy less than it used to. In simple terms, to ensure riders on the minimum wage can afford to pay for the same things they did in 2018, which is when the last CBA was negotiated, the minimum wage needed to be higher than what the CPA agreed to.

The CPA’s  new minimum wage, in part due to the fact that it hadn’t been negotiated for five years, and in part because of either a general misunderstanding of financial markets or incompetence, has failed to adjust to inflation. 

Rather than seeing better financial conditions for riders the minimum salary has, in real terms, decreased. Put simply, if something cost $1 in 2018, in 2024 it will cost around $1.18. If your salary hasn’t grown accordingly, you are now worse off.

Representatives from the CPA agreed to set the 2024 minimum wage for Employed UCI World Tour riders at €42,047 and Self-Employed at €68,957. For riders to not be financially worse off than if they were on the minimum wage in 2018, the minimum wage in the new agreement should have been around €48,279 and €77,231 respectively. This shortfall not only jeopardises the financial well-being of professional cyclists but also reflects a limited understanding of the economic and evolving cost of living challenges that confront riders today. A recent study conducted in Australia found that the number one reason athletes were dropping out of elite sport was due to financial pressures. 

While the CBA was signed exclusively for the men, this oversight has flow on effects for female professional cyclists. In 2021 Trek-Segafredo announced that they would pay all their female riders at least the minimum salary of male WorldTour riders. While the team didn’t implement the new policy until the 2022 season, it had wide flow on effects throughout the female peloton. Teams like Jayco-AlUlA immediately increased their riders salaries in 2021, with EF Education - TIBCO-SVB, and UAE Team ADQ also increasing their minimum salary to mirror the male WorldTour minimum. I can say from first hand experience, an extra €8,000 a year would not go unnoticed and is something I would hope my union would fight for.

When it comes to CBA negotiations, a player Union’s paramount responsibility is to get the best outcomes for its members, the CPA did not.


In some circumstances, when negotiating a CBA you may negotiate a lower minimum salary if you believe this could be compensated in other areas. However, it is hard to see where any other material advantage has been gained for male professional cyclists.

Where the CPA may have been able to negotiate financial gains for riders was around their image rights and data ownership. This is a pressing issue impacting athletes' financial interests and privacy in the digital age. It is increasingly being incorporated into CBAs across the sporting industry.

The National Women’s Soccer League’s (NWSL) first collective bargaining agreement, which was signed in 2022, gave players ownership over their biometric data. The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) do the same and also require that any revenue generated  through the commercialisation of performance data by the National Football League goes into the Allocated Revenue fund, a portion of which is shared with the players. 

Athlete-based intellectual property (such as their name, image, performance data and health data) represents one of the rare assets that athletes can exercise control over. It is imperative for unions to champion athlete rights and enhance financial opportunities linked to performance data. What does this look like in cycling? An easy example is the power numbers, current speed and heart rate figures we have begun to see pop up when we are watching races. We now see in real time Pogacar’s performance data as he seemingly dances up the Poggio and think, “what the….?” This data has been provided to third parties by cycling teams. These third parties pay for this data, and the riders get nothing. The riders should be thinking, “what the….?”

The CPA's approval of this CBA not only neglects to secure salary growth for riders at a time when the cost of living is skyrocketing but has failed to negotiate the share in any revenue generated by teams who sell riders personal performance data. Athlete’s careers are finite. Off the top of my head, I can think of four of my teammates, who in their mid-to-late-twenties were forced to end their careers due to ongoing concussion symptoms. A rider’s union should be doing everything possible to put them in the best financial position for the day where they inevitably have to transition out of it.


CBAs are not all about money. They are about providing an element of security and protection for a group of people that operate outside the mainstream of traditional labour relations and consequently outside regular employment protections afforded to everyday people. The lack of rider safety protections in the new CBA is concerning.

Earlier this year Stefan Küng suffered a heavy crash during the elite men's time trial at the European Road Championships. Despite the obvious cracked helmet and profuse bleeding from his head, Küng was allowed to continue. Shortly after finishing it was confirmed that he had suffered a concussion and fractures to his hand and skull.

On 15 June 2023, Gino Mäder fell on a turn when descending Albula Pass. On this descent riders exceed 100 km/h and it has little-to-no protective equipment should something go wrong. The cycling community mourned the death of Gino, who was pronounced dead after being airlifted to hospital.

While tragic, incidents like these are not uncommon in cycling. The time to discuss rider safety was during the CBA negotiation. 

One of two notable changes to the CBA from 2018 was around the insurance which must be provided by teams to riders. These changes are reactive, and will primarily benefit riders after an incident has occurred. While financial compensation is undoubtedly crucial, it should not be the sole focus of rider safety measures. The focus should be on proactive safety measures that can prevent incidents from occurring in the first place. Minor alterations made by the CPA to insurance provisions and augmented payouts in the event of rider fatalities or crashes fall short of making substantial strides towards preventing and reducing tragic incidents. 

The CPA has failed to incorporate any requisite safety measures or provisions that would contribute to even the smallest improvement in the safety of riders or reduce the inherent risks associated with professional cycling.


Riders should prioritise sharing their thoughts openly, to ensure their concerns are heard and addressed. However, voicing your concern or disapproval on social media isn’t enough. Riders need to actively engage with their union and organise. There is nothing to prevent the CPA from reopening negotiations and addressing riders' concerns around fair wages, revenue sharing and improved safety measures. Infact, one of the few allowances for riders in the CBA is the ability for the Professional Cycling Council to make exemptions to the joint agreement for the “development of Cycling”. 

Female cyclists, excluded from the collective bargaining agreement by the CPA and AIGCP  altogether, are actually in a powerful position to negotiate a CBA that can set the gold standard for collective bargaining agreements in cycling.

Women’s cycling, thanks in large part to the Tour de France Femmes, has seen seismic growth over the past two seasons. In 2023, 4.3-million viewers turned on French television to watch Demi Vollering’s absolutely epic run up the Tourmalet on stage 7 of the Tour de France Femmes. Those 4.3-million views accounted for 34.6 percent of the television audience. Across the entire race, an average of 2-million people tuned in for each stage, which is 24.8 percent of the national French audience share.

Female cyclists, like the Matildas who just signed a CBA with Football Australia, should leverage the public interest and demand that is swirling around their sport to negotiate a deal that sees their salaries increase with the revenue of race organisers, ensures they are compensated for their performance data that is sold to third parties, and demands proactive safety measures be implemented. Maternity clauses, injury compensation, athlete transition funds, and union rights should also be negotiated, amongst other things. 

The CPAs CBA amounts to 16 pages of very little for professional cyclists that isn’t already regulated by the standard contract required by the UCI and signed by riders and teams. It was a missed opportunity. In a sport where you lose more than you win, when it comes to your workplace rights and safety, this isn’t a post-Tour criterium where you’re happy to ride around for the appearance fee. This is the World Championships and you should be lining up to win, or fighting for the best and fairest result. 

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