From the Tour de France to the World Cup. And now, from the Giro d’Italia to the greatest classic in the late season. Due to corona, there is cycling nearly every day. Bobbie Traksel, former professional bicycle racer, TV commentator at Eurosport and president of cycling association VVBW, wants to seize the crisis time to better guide and coach cyclists in things like their pensions and their rights. Because, for many cyclists, that is not a luxury. “It is a misunderstanding that all cyclists earn buckets of money.”
Bobbie Traksel stands up for his cyclists. There is a small group of top earners of the Tom Dumoulin and Matthieu van der Poel caliber, but 60 percent of professional cyclists makes less than 50,000 Euros a year. Traksel wants to do much more for that group. “We really want to develop something for those people. An economic crisis is looming, the world is changing rapidly, politically and socially, and we also need to put energy into the financial future of our youngest racers. What we would like best is an order from the KNWU to train young cyclists on the continental level -semi-professional – in finances, rights and the political landscape in the world of cycling. We can also teach them independently. Most cyclist discuss these kinds of things with their personal managers. A personal manager doesn’t always give independent advice either. We would like to have a much more of a grip on this.”
The “post-career fund”
After the sometimes forced end of their cycling career, professional cyclists often fall into a hole. “They’re suddenly out of work, with no income and most cyclists have not earned enough to build up a buffer. It is a misunderstanding that all racing cyclists earn buckets of money,” Traksel explains. “There are just a few of those. Most cyclists left their education in order to fully focus on their cycling careers.” Cycling association VVBW came up with the idea of the “post-career fund” for these cyclists. This is used to help cyclists after their cycling careers have ended. By opening three funds, the VVBW is helping seriously injured, unemployed or discontinuing cyclists with financial support and, for example, finding a job. First of all, there is the co-called CFK fund. That is a unique arrangement in which professional cyclists and soccer players are mandated to invest a portion of their gross income into a personal participation fund. They don’t have to pay taxes or social premiums on this investment. As soon as their professional careers end, they receive a bridging pension from a second fund for a few years. And the third one is a solidarity fund that was founded by the international cycling federation UCI and is managed by the international trade union CPA. Cyclists receive an extra 10,000 to 15,000 Euros after their careers have ended. This helps them to survive the first period and allows them to focus on work or education. It also allows them to wait for that great job they had always wanted. This is important and necessary.”
Furious top cyclists
Only, an uprising erupted between 300 top cyclists and the CPA. The trade union is seen by top riders as a puppet of the international cycling union UCI. Former cyclist Stef Clement has this to say about it: “There was no membership meeting in 2019, even though that is required. And there is something else that is noteworthy, and that is that only 25 percent of pensions is being paid. Our group believes that the cyclists play a central role in cycling and that they should therefore be adequately represented. So, we want more transparency.” The international pension pot is being filled with proceeds from the World Tour races. The cyclists are furious and top cyclists, such as Robert Gesink and Chris Froome, along with 300 other cyclists have threatened legal action.